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

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Volunteer Mapping at Blackjack Ski Club, Rossland

A GIS student blog post about his experiences volunteering GIS, by Rob

This past summer I wanted to gain more experience mapping.  I chose to pursue volunteering opportunities where I could gain experience and contribute to an interesting project prior to going back to school.  A GIS instructor at the time suggested a project by a cross country ski club, located in Rossland BC who wanted to update their current trail maps.

Working through this project allowed me to:

  • Explore new challenges and skills; with the support of the people around me and the time to just play with the functions and capabilities of ArcMap, I learned a lot about working within different files, editing and map layout. Taking courses could have offered structure, but taking a project over and producing a finished product that will contribute to a local volunteer organization has given me a little more incentive.
  • Experience and understanding; working through problems not only introduced me to a new skill set, it also instilled a level of confidence that comes with practice.  For example, uploading KML files is a simple task, but often GPS units are not very accurate and missing much of the necessary attribute data for a desired, final output.  In this case, many hours of editing has been completed to take a rough line and converting it into a useful polyline.  This has involved iterations between the ski club and me for quality checking the edits and simply putting the time in to do the work.  After a line feature has been edited, attributes such as trail name and distances had to measured and entered.  A trail numbering system has been established and appropriate symbology defined for all the features.  All this and making the map readable!
  • Contribute;    I love that people will be able to benefit from my work here.  A local community effort asked for support and I was able to help.

  • Karma;  while being out on our trails, wherever they are, I’m doing my part to maintain a local trail network and having fun doing it

Thank you Blackjack or the opportunity to work with you!

Check out the links below for a sample of where we came from and where we are at now (still in draft form!)

New DRAFT trail map                                                  Old trail map

I highly suggest going out there this winter and checking them out!!

Not too sure where you can help out, go to your own local organization, otherwise here are some international opportunities out there:

CIEE Research Station Bonaire sometimes posts jobs on their page when they have openings, but they also have a list of links to other great sites

“Our mission is to provide outstanding educational opportunities to students in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation.  We strive to provide interdisciplinary marine research opportunities for CIEE students as well as visiting scientists and their students from around the world.  Collaboration with ongoing local research and conservation efforts is basic to our mission as is our commitment to provide scientific data, analysis and support to Bonaire’s environmental, educational and governmental entities.”

 Coral Cay Conservation

 “Coral Cay Conservation is an internationally renowned and accredited conservation specialist dedicated to providing the resources to help protect coral reefs and tropical rainforests throughout the developing world.”

 Mostly unpaid (or small stipend) positions.

OceansWatch International looks like an awesome opportunity (though it is volunteer-only)

“In close co-operation with the world’s sailors, divers and academics, OceansWatch undertakes marine conservation projects and offers humanitarian aid to coastal communities in developing countries.  OceansWatch offers resources, in the form of ocean-going research vessels and expertise, such as marine biologists, members training, project management and support crew.  OceansWatch strengthens the link between the global yachting and diving communities and those who are actively involved in marine research, education and conservation.”

ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development) is a non-profit that often has GIS internships/short-term positions (not really ecology-focused, but occasionally something comes up)

“ACTED’s vocation is to support vulnerable populations affected by wars, natural disasters and/or economic and social crises, and to accompany them in building a better future; thus contributing to the Millennium Development Goals.  The programs implemented by ACTED (around 300 per year), in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, aim at addressing the needs of populations affected by wars, natural disasters and/or economic and social crises.”

And it’s always worth checking Idealist

Into the minds of our students

The semester has been blowing by and March is only a couple days away.  The work by our GIS students, is as usual, most impressive at this point in their ADGIS/BGIS academic career.

Of particular note, is the work shared on their blogs and how this year’s class seems to have taken a little more interest in the social media/digital communication/blogging world.  If you’re not already watching them, you can find them all on twitter, and their blogs via our student showcase.

In particular, I want to point you to Nick Donnelly, who has done “not bad, not bad at all”, as he likes to say.  Check out his blog posts related to his experience over the year…..and gain some insight into what you might be doing here if you decide to take our program.

…and for those tweeting, you can follow them on this list.



GIS Student websites; here’s our 2012.13 showcase of work

Every year the GIS class creates websites or webblogs to showcase what they’ve done in the program and share a little about themselves. This is a work in progress, as final marks for these sites are awarded in April.  But even as drafts, there are many awesome examples. Check them out over the Christmas holidays…we can’t be skiing every second and there’s always time to read about GIS…… without further ado, GIS Student websites, 2012.13

Discovering our World Through GIS on November 14th, GIS day

Interested in learning more about how GIS is used for understanding our planet?  Curious about all of the applications of this technology? Want to test drive using GIS?  Keen to network with industry professionals and software leaders in this field?  Need to know what GIS education and career options are out there?

Or do you just want some free food and cool swag?

Then you should really join us for GIS day this Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 on our Castlegar campus.  It runs 11:30 – 2:30 in the PIT.

We’re partnering with DataBC and the Ministry of Education to promote data and geographic literacy in BC.  We’re also lucky to have Esri Canada and Micromine sponsor our event by allowing us to provide some delicious grub, and we’re excited to host booths and map displays from AKSGeoscience, Peregrine Aerial Surveys, Canada Center for Remote Sensing, Natural Resources Canada, previous and current GIS students, our Geospatial Research Centre and more!

See poster below for details, or contact tharvey (at) selkirk.ca.  You can also follow us on our @SelkirkGIS twitter account for more info leading up to the event.

GIS Day Poster

GIS Day November 14, 2012

GIS Program Renewal Process

Right now we’re undergoing a significant GIS program renewal process.  This is something that I believe should be done frequently in an ever changing industry.

As part of this process we are:

  1. scrutinizing content for each course; what are our leaning objectives?  what do the students need to know?
  2. harnessing the real strengths of our GIS instructional team and SGRC research team (we’ve been building extensive programming, project management, advanced analysis, statistical, remote sensing and more, experience)
  3. adjusting course delivery timing and format (people need flexibility!)
  4. developing a short (6 course, 18 credit) online GIS Certificate.  This will give students an opportunity to add GIS to another discipline (known as “GIS Plus”, coined by our friend Tom Dool at the RDCK).  This is in addition to our existing ADGIS and BGIS certifications.
  5. ensuring we are not over-delivering (a 3 credit course should require 3-4 hours of time).  Students need a life (they come here to ski and bike, yo!)
  6. ensuring good transitioning and appropriate collaboration between courses and with our SGRC (GIS research).
  7. Sharing our amazing programs with the world.  We have a state of the art lab and incredible instructors in a truly amazing place (but lots of people don’t know this…yet!).

We’re open to input and feedback on this process.  Please connect with us to share your thoughts.

And why should you come here?  Well (besides the fact that we offer great programs), do you love to ski?

Powder at Red Mountain

Powder at Red Mountain

( you can downhill at Red or White or cross country at Blackjack or Castlegar Ski Club or Nelson Nordic Ski Club).

Do you love to mountain bike? (check out KCTS).  Or golf, or swim, or just love the outdoors?

Do you want to live in the Kootenays, BC and be a part of the beatnik Communities of Rossland or Nelson?

Do you want a rewarding and challenging job? Seriously, this is the place for you to learn GIS.

For more info and to apply, check our official website.


Open Data, So What?

Open Data, So What?  Was a PD (Professional Development) event in Burnaby on February 16th that I recently attended during my reading week.  Hosted by URISA BC.  It was an excellent use of time.

The lineup of speakers was fabulous; people shared how they enabled open data at their organization, what they built using it (an estimated $2,300,000 worth of value added products says one speaker), how important it is, challenges encountered when making data open, and so on.

My personal favourite speakers were, interestingly, partners and co-founders of one of the value added applications created using open data: Recollect.  The speakers themselves were Luke Closs and David Eaves; they spoke on two different topics.

Recollect - Garbage and Recycling Reminders

Recollect - Garbage and Recycling Reminders

For municipalities with changing garbage and recycling reminders, residents can sign up for a reminder that can come in a variety of formats.  Dubbed the “Marriage saver”, this application is genius.

How many municipalities are spending extra by having waste removal occur every Monday (for example), thereby paying (directly or indirectly) statutory holiday wages?  In 2011, of the 52 weeks, 6 Monday pickups were stat holidays. I see opportunity for cost savings if these municipalities move to a variable schedule, and utilize Recollect for reminders.

And speaking of cost savings, David Eaves, an incredibly engaging and effective speaker, discussed key opportunities with using open data and open source technologies, and introduced us to Kuali.  Open Source Administration Software for Higher Ed.  Doesn’t it look like it’s worth exploring?



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