Learning GIS at Selkirk College

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

Category: School of Environment and Geomatics

Thanks for the great GIS Day, 2014!

Networking at GIS day 2014

Networking at GIS day 2014

We are pleased with our turn-out of around 100 people who joined us for GIS day this year!

Attendees included local GIS professionals, GIS students, potential students and GIS instructors.

We had a great poster presentation session by our current ADGIS students on the topic of disruptive GIS.  There was a variety of posters to check out showing the vast interpretation of “disruptive” when it comes to technology and innovation.

Attendees were asked to vote on their favourite poster, which was identified as

Barb Robitaille’s !  Hers is one of the samples below and appropriately titled Disruptive GIS!

We were honoured to have our key note speaker, Dr. Jon Corbett  join us to discuss his take on disruptive GIS and to share the research he is doing nearby at UBC-Okanagan.  He certainly inspired many of us to check out geoguesser!

A  tasty lunch was provided by Ripple Cafe , followed by three short talks in the staff lounge; the first by Peter LeCouffe (an ADGIS grad from last year, and partner at Harrier Surveys) who discussed how he captured a 3D point cloud of our campus with his new drone, next was Bart Fyffe from RDKB (an ADGIS grad from 2013) who shared his thesis on how he derived fire susceptibility of homes in Castlegar and finally, Suzanne Ector from the SGRC shared her recent work on the employment lands project in partnership with the RDI.

We would like to thank our sponsors who helped make the event happen, and look forward to making next year’s GIS day even better.

 

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!

~Tracey

GIS day came and went

We had over 150 attendees join us for GIS day.  It was a hugely diverse crowd, from people who had never heard of the term GIS, to professional industry experts.

Our guests included kids from two local high schools of Mount Sentinel and Stanley Humphries, other Selkirk students, several from within our School of Environment and Geomatics and others from various areas of the college, most notably nursing, business and aviation.  We also had many local GIS professionals join us from the regional districts and local private companies.

We’re pleased with how the day went and the energy that generated.  People appeared engaged and interested in what we do, hungry for more.  Speaking of, our sponsors, micromine and esri definitely made the day by providing a free lunch.

We listened to feedback and made some notes; next year we’ll hold workshop sessions first before speakers, and offer concurrent sessions aimed at the variety of skill sets within the crowd.  We’ll also engage our GIS students earlier in the process, and hopefully utilize their skills for planning, session delivery and of course give them time to network, one of this year’s greatest benefits.

And of course, many, many thanks to DataBC and the Ministry of Education in supporting us for our big day.

’till next year……

Old School Field GIS

Every now and then, old school bubbles to the surface as the preferred way.  Who could argue with this Integrated Environmental Planning Instructor that his paper maps taped to a van aren’t effective and engaging?

Students loved them.

Old School Field GIS

Old School Field GIS

Right now first year IEP students are in field school.  Last week we went far beyond paper maps taped to vans; we looked at and discussed lots of things like snow, water, development, LEED, trails, people, values, planning, environment, site characteristics and applying GIS to much of it.

Retaining Wall Failed

Retaining Wall Failed

Where does the snow go when it melts?

Where does the snow go when it melts?

LEED development in Rossland

LEED development in Rossland

What a great week and amazing way to end the semester.  Happy Summer everyone!

School’s out for summer!

…..(well kinda)…..today is the last day of classes; because of Easter long weekend, we ended a day early!

The spirit today was high and people were…..giddy and a little…..silly.  Here’s an example of instructor appreciation; what happens when you’re about to retire and the students really like you.

The sign says: “Happy Retirement Badass” – that’s for Badass Barry.

Happy Retirement Badass

Happy Retirement Badass

Happy Retirement Barry, take 2

Happy Retirement Barry, take 2

The students also made a fundraiser T-shirt with this guy too, ya, he is that good:

Badass Barry T-shirt fundraiser

Badass Barry T-shirt fundraiser

First Year Outcomes

When students enter into any of the 3 two year environment diploma programs at the college they take one (or half of one in actuality now) GIS course in their first year.  We’re almost finished an intense six weeks of GIS.  It’s been challenging for sure.

In the end it looks like we’ve accomplished our broad goals of ENVR 158, which are to:

  1. be exposed to the digital geographic world of documenting, communicating and understanding our work which is all spatial in nature (ie where things are is important).
  2. create a solid foundation of GIS
  3. increase students’ summer employability (by adding GIS to their toolkit)

For an instructor, it’s neat to see such incredible progress as we move through our steep learning curve.  Check out these master pieces below, done in the fourth week with a focus on using different coordinate systems and their resulting impact (it uses classic Esri data and workflows).  Impressive!

(maps below published with student consent)

Cable Map - 1st Year ENVR Student

Cable Map - 1st Year ENVR Student

Cable Map2 - 1st Year ENVR Student

Cable Map2 - 1st Year ENVR Student