In 2012 I earned Dual Majors in Geography and Geomatics and Spatial Analysis from the University of Ottawa Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics. I then went on to complete a Master of Science (MSc) in Geography. Initially entering the Geography program, I had a vague idea of what the study of Geogarphy was, most of which was informed by reading a lot of National Geographic magazines. What I didn’t expect was how broad and deep the field of Geography is and how many other interesting disciplines that it relates to. While I could have happily pursed anyone one of the Department’s subdisciplines (e.g. Biogeography, Health Geography, Natural Resource Management), I chose to specialize in anything Geomatics and Spatial Analysis related. From my very first GEG2320, Introduction to Geomatics class, I could see the real-world usefulness for this science and technology as well as the value of anyone who possessed the skill sets and knowledge to apply it.
Few employment opportunities and the offer of an academic scholarship lead to my decision to continue into graduate studies. My MSc thesis related to the use of smartphone technology applied to small-scale forestry. The research allowed me to explore the intersection of mobile computing technology, geographic information systems (GIS), and natural resource management. All of which were topics that I’d been exposed to during my undergraduate work. After completing my master’s degree, I obtained a position as a GIS technician in an Ottawa engineering firm which specializes in storm and wastewater infrastructure inspection and condition assessment. My main responsibilities revolve around managing all the spatial data we work with. Some of the data is provided by our clients, some of it we have to create. Every day I routinely use the fundamental lessons learned from my university education. Perhaps one of the most important things I understand now, and was told to me repeatedly by my professors, is that no academic program can teach every software package, concept or hot topic. What a program and its instructors can do is expose you to new ideas, teach you to think critically, and encourage you to pursue knowledge for yourself. The University of Ottawa provided me with the opportunities and resources to achieve the academic and career successes that I’ve been afforded since my time there.