What happens in the lab; a showcase of GIS Student creations & other good stuff.

Category: ADGIS (Page 1 of 4)

I’d like to introduce you to

our current ADGIS student showcase!

It’s been one heck of a busy semester (again!), students are finally done exams and final projects and most are en-route to a holiday destination until January 5th, when we start a fresh new semester and new year.

As part of our New Media class, students generated website blogs to host their developing GIS portfolios and to share a little more about themselves.

Please take a cruise around our 2014-2015 student showcase to learn more yourself!

If you have any questions about working with any of these students, feel free to contact Tracey Harvey (GIS instructor) or Brenda Smith (co-op coordinator) for more details.

Have a great break everyone, and see you in the new year!


A glimpse of what our ADGIS grads are up to – Part 3

Highly self-motivated Katie James, while on her February reading break in Victoria, walked over to Stantec to inquire about possible GIS employment opportunities. Katie’s cold call worked out leading to a full-time position.  When I asked Katie about her experience so far, this is what she told me:

“It is undeniable that diving in head first is the way to learn. Working at a big company like Stantec has been so rewarding in it’s availability for learning opportunities. Since beginning here in April, I have learned many tips and tricks in ArcMap. One of my favourite tools is data driven pages – very useful for mapping routes.

I have fortunately found my niche in the office preparing field data for surveying using mobile mapcachescreating .gpx files, and using MapWel software to create .img files on GPS units. Additionally, I have worked closely on analyzing public transit routes for ridership volume and bus stop usage. Needless to say, data is messy and it has become very clear the importance of database functionality.

My experience has been nothing short of exciting. Everyday I learn something new, and what else could you really ask for?”


Barry McLane spent the summer working with the SGRC, providing mapping support to various community organizations throughout the Columbia River Basin. He also started his own cartography business; and published several maps for Tourism Rossland, the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society, and private developers.

“When I decided to go ahead with the Rossland trail guide, I contacted Tourism Rossland to make sure that I wouldn’t be stepping on any toes, as they already publish a brochure of the Rossland trails.

That courtesy call ended up landing me work with themcreating road biking and nordic skiing maps. That interaction with them further solidified just how important networking is. I think the initiative that I took with the KCTS and Tourism Rossland was ultimately what landed me the position at the SGRC.”

Check out some of Barry’s recent work at kootenaymaps.ca/projects.

Barry will be joining the ADGIS class next Friday (Septemebr 19th) to showcase the bridge between ArcGIS and Adobe Illustrator.


A glimpse of what our ADGIS grads are up to – Part 2

We’re almost done our first week of school which involved college wide and school orientation, introductions, log-in & network troubleshooting, program familiarization, and three full classes.  As everyone settles in for the year, our new cohort of GISers are asking what others are up to from previous years.  Here’s a little more from last year’s ADGIS grads:

Chrisite Rajtarova is working as a full time GIS Analyst with Polar Geomatics in Sylvan Lake, Alberta who serves clients in both Oil and Gas and the Municipal sectors.  What helped her to land her job?

“Being well prepared for my interview was definitely a good start to landing a position with Polar. Not only was I able to confidently answer more than a handful of loaded GIS questions, but was also able to carry on a conversation when I was asked about a situation in which required me to listen well to get my point across. I studied key concepts from the more challenging projects I had completed at Selkirk to ameliorate my GIS / CAD vocabulary, and every skill required posted on the job description – whether I had it or not at the time I applied, I made sure I had it before my interview.”

Christie says her favourite projects are those that consist of environmental monitoring as it makes her feel like she is doing something important and playing her part in environmental stewardship. Such projects often include anthropogenic analysis of land, within a lease or caribou range, using data from dispositions, ecophase disturbances, foreign facilities and so on and comparing them to imagery before proceeding with calculations.

“I love variety and the best part of my job is that I get my hands on every type of project which ensures that I am never bored.”

Rob de Jung spent the summer working with the County of Grande Prairie as a summer student and a part of a five person GIS team.  The County takes data management seriously, assigning Rob as one of the custodians of their information systems, who was tasked with creating an address locator to work with their existing road network.  This task included significant QC/QA so that the County’s data conforms to provincially recognized standards (Alberta Municipal Data Sharing Partnership or the AMDSP), ensuring the County has a fully functioning routing system for Emergency services, and additionally for adoption into Google Maps.

Rob is back on campus now, ready for a final year and completion of his BGIS at Selkirk College.

Leslie Rowe spent the summer serving as a GIS Technician within the Information Management & Information Technology (IMIT) department of the Interior Health Authority (IHA) in Kelowna, BC. The IHA is a health service organisation that serves the southern interior of BC. It covers 216,000 sq. kilometres, supports a population of 742,00, is responsible for 7940 hospital beds and has a staff of over 19,000 people.

One of the major projects Leslie worked on involved the “Big Eight”. The Big Eight refers to the eight largest hospitals within the Interior Health Authority: Kelowna General, Royal Inland, Penticton General, Kootenay Boundary, Vernon Jubilee, Shuswap General, East Kootenay and Caribou Memorial.  Leslie worked to convert architectural building plans and related infrastructure data of the Big Eight hospitals into ArcGIS compatible data sets utilizing Geometric Networks so that the data can be used in infrastructure management, analysis, and 3D visualization.

The GIS instructional and research team is looking forward to another great year.  Have a great weekend everyone….and check back next week as more grads keep in touch, I’ll share more on what they’re doing.




A glimpse of what our ADGIS grads are up to

I love keeping in touch with former ADGIS students and hearing about what they are doing with GIS; I ask them about their greatest successes and learnings thus far, any challenges or hurdles they’ve had to overcome and what they feel are the overall best parts of their new GIS career.

With the beginning of a new school year almost here, it’s a great time to share how previous students put their education to work.  Here are a few details I’ve received after reaching out to some recent alumni:

Andy Jones spent the summer working at FortisBC in Trail, BC building a Geo-locator tool for offline use in the field; the tool is expected to allow users to find customer addresses and also to reverse geocode to find their location. Andy’s job is technical and specific. Andy says:

“The project has been very interesting and a great introduction to a career in GIS, it has also been challenging and a great learning experience. I spent a large portion of my time writing Python scripts to wrangle large data sets often containing over 1 million records, this was not trivial and a step up from the basic Python learned in the GIS program.

Everything that I have designed needs to be easily repeatable and maintainable after I have gone, this means packaging scripts as tools and writing detailed but concise documentation”

Another recent alumni, Lorraine Brown, is at SaskPower and part of the GradWorks development program.  She is involved in a variety of GIS related duties from technical to customer relations:

“Well there’s so much to cover but here’s the GISt…databases all the time, data mining and geoprcessing with model builder (like a thousand times and still not the output you want), client relations (and dealing with the imagined outputs with the non-existent data), networking and cold calling to make contacts and much more! “

Lauren Maluta has been working with the City of Fernie in their GIS/Engineering department out of Fernie, BC.  She mentions the work she does has “advantageous learning opportunities“; she multi-tasks projects and hunts for operational efficiency:

“Daily projects are self-directed and I’ve been given freedom to research innovative ways to make the departments operations more efficient. I work on 5-10 projects at any given time, and am managing their progress independently. There is always a mentor available to ask questions and seek guidance from.”

Ambitious Peter LeCouffe, right out of the ADGIS program, and with a well established partner in the local market, decided to start up a UAV remote sensing companyHarrier Aerial Surveys, located in Nelson, BC.  Peter wanted to stay in the Kootenays so he created a job for himself.  Peter says the GIS program prepared him with fundamental skills for this adventure.  He also says:

“When starting up a business you must be more than an expert at just model builder. The niche you create and the evolving industry will always keep you on your toes and keep the adventure of a job in GIS alive!”

I’ve still got more to share about what other GIS students from last year are up to. Coming soon.  Till then, enjoy the last days of summer!


My relationship with technology – an ADGISer’s perspective

A guest GIS student blog post by Jen 

It has been a while since I wrote my first blog and I’ve noticed a few surprising changes:  In the last seven months, after spending countless hours in front of a computer, my love for technology has actually grown – something I didn’t think was possible.

Even though most of my days are spent looking at two 17” PC monitors in the GIS lab, I go home to spend my evenings looking at my 27” Apple monitor (apparently I am an Apple Addict) and the weird thing is it doesn’t bother me like it used to.  I used to get headaches back in September, after a couple of hours on a computer, but no more!  One could conclude this is a good thing since I am now in the professional field of GIS which requires that I constantly utilize computers now, and for years to come.

New technology and breakthroughs are happening on a daily basis and it can be somewhat tiresome keeping up with it all.

There are days when my Twitter account is overlooked (not very often mind you) which sometimes means I can be a few hours to a couple of days behind of something new!  (Gasp)

However, this RARELY happens, as I am a Pro at multi-tasking all day long;

Profs are talking while I am on the internet, doing schoolwork, back to the internet, then I’m making dinner, back to the internet (mobile of course by now on my iPhone or iPad), now on to homework, obviously the internet follows, and so it goes on…..You get the picture.

Sometimes I wonder if I missed my calling on blogging about technology on a full time basis.  Nah, I’ll stick with considering this my ‘knack’ and using these skills for keeping up with new technology and software all things GIS.

My love for technology continues to grow as new things are released, keeping my inner-child entertained, but more so because of my deep understanding and respect for technology.

What kind of person would I be if I didn’t support my fellow tech-savvy entrepreneurs?

This Jen’s second post on technology, read the first.

Publishing GIS data in Adobe Creative Suite

~ A guest blog post by ADGISer Barry McLane

I’m a big fan of Adobe Creative Suite, and have been working with Photoshop and Illustrator for some time. Last fall [in GIS 321] I discovered that ArcMap can export to Illustrator (AI) files, and I’ve since been finalizing all of my maps in Illustrator. The publishing capabilities of ArcMap are decent – especially in contrast with other GIS software – but the output quality eventually caps out.

Some of the graphic design features of Photoshop and Illustrator are absolutely necessary to reach a high level of cartographic quality.

Color management and opacity settings – to name only a few – are areas where Illustrator really outshines ArcMap. The library of raster effects in Photoshop are really useful as well, and can give maps a very customized look.

I recently had the opportunity to work with Tourism Rossland, and created maps for their new road biking brochure. I sourced all the spatial data, and compiled the map layers in ArcMap 10.2 using fixed extent data frames for each map. I then exported the raw layers into Photoshop (rasters) and Illustrator (vectors). This workflow offered up a good change of scenery, as 90% of the work was done using non-GIS software.

The fixed extend data frames are really key. They enable the user to continually make changes/additions in ArcMap, and import them into the existing Illustrator file without the need to re-align layers. Illustrator maintains the grouping of layers, which is very helpful.

Map elements, such as scale bars and legends, are also separated into groups.

I used Illustrator to do the vector work: feature symbolizing, text labels, symbols etc., and Photoshop to build the base maps, which are a composite of multiple hillshade and DEM tiles. I exported the hillshade and DEM rasters as TIFF files, and stacked them into a single Photoshop (PSD) file. This allowed for maximum flexibility with the tone and contrast of the basemaps. The elevation profiles were made using the Strava route planner. I imported screenshots of the profiles into Illustrator, and used them as templates to create new profiles from scratch.

This project was a great learning experience for me, and I feel lucky to have worked with such professional people. The graphic designer, Shelley Ackerman, and author Terry Miller really did a bang up job. The brochure design is top notch, and the tongue-in-cheek ride descriptions are hilarious. It has been published as an 8 panel, double folding brochure that Tourism Rossland distributes to events and storefronts across the region, to promote Rossland as a road cycling destination.

The process of exporting ArcMap documents into Illustrator isn’t without it’s nuances, though. Here’s a few tips/lessons that I’ve learned over the past 6 months:

  1. In ArcMap, no layers can contain any level of transparency, otherwise they will be exported as an un-editable full-page raster. This is usually the main source of problems when exporting to AI.
  2. The resolution at which you export will also affect the vectors, which strays from the traditional concept that vectors are “resolution independent”.
  3. Only one raster image can be exported at a time. Multiple exported raster layers will be flattened into a single layer on the AI side. I find it simplest to export rasters as TIFF files, and place them in the AI document separately.
  4. The layers nest themselves in groups in AI, and 2 clipping masks are created for each layer. The concept of clipping masks can be annoying and difficult to grasp at first, but they are ultimately what allow users to add newly exported layers without the need to re-align. More info on Illustrator clipping masks here.
  5. Keep features simple when exporting, and do all the symbolization in AI. No need to duplicate the process.
  6. Exporting text from ArcMap to Illustrator is in general pretty buggy, so I just don’t bother. I do the annotation work once in Illustrator, where it is more flexible anyway.
Check Barry’s fine work in detail on his own site.  Front & back of the brochure


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