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HARRISBURG, PA – On April 4, 2024, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (HU) again supported volunteer efforts alongside Messiah University to assist with site cleanup, conduct drone flights, and use ESRI technology to generate field maps at Lincoln Cemetery. A previous day of service took place in April 2023.

Lincoln Cemetery, located at 2400 Wayne Avenue in Harrisburg, PA, is one of the oldest African-American burial grounds in the United States and the oldest such site in Harrisburg. However, many of the cemetery’s estimated 10,000 burials are no longer visible. An organization called Saving Our Ancestors’ Legacy (SOAL) was established in 2021 to restore this treasured cemetery and create a digital record of the individuals buried there. This 2024 day of service fell on the 56th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968.

To support this collaboration, Harrisburg University previously created a web-based mapping application that incorporated high-resolution aerial drone imagery taken of the site. The application allows future field-research volunteers to seamlessly log information on cemetery inhabitants, including names, dates of birth and death, and photos of the headstones and surrounding area. The customized application keeps this data organized, accessible, and accurate, which further supports additional volunteer efforts led by SOAL and other partners.

Albert Sarvis, PMP, GISP, Program Lead of Geospatial Technology at Harrisburg University, helped lead efforts at HU to organize this day of service in conjunction with Messiah University and SOAL. Professor Sarvis said:

“We love finding practical ways to see technology instruction applied to problem-solving in the real world. Our students continuously learn about new ways to apply drone and mapping technologies to everyday life, but getting a chance to help communities regain their heritage and restore these lost burial sites as family landmarks is very rewarding.”

Harrisburg University recently received a portion of a $13.5 million workforce development grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This grant recognizes HU’s critical position in regional and national talent pipelines and will help further develop HU’s Pilot Certification, Drones for Agriculture, and Drones for Forensics programs. These programs provide HU’s dual enrollment and College in the High School (CiHS) students with tangible experiences that mimic real working environments and highly valuable STEM careers out in the real world.


Harrisburg University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is a private, nonprofit university offering bachelor’s and graduate degree programs in the fields of science, technology, and mathematics. For additional information about the University’s affordable, demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, please call 717-901-5146 or email Stay updated by following Harrisburg University on XLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.