November Alumni of the Month
During a recent interview Michael offered the following:
Why did you want to be a GEOG/GIS/ENSP major?
During my first two years at UMD, I went from major to major quite a bit (GIS and GEOG were my fourth and fifth majors, respectively) before settling on GEOG with a GIS minor. Dr. Luna had sold me on GIS during GEOG130, which I was taking to fill my Diversity CORE requirement at the time. GIS was attractive to me because it is a fast-paced field with an increasing demand in the job market. When I decided to do the MPS-GIS program, I switched my major from GIS to GEOG to broaden my resume.
What internships or independent research did you do as a GEOG/GIS/ENSP major?
As an undergrad, I was an intern in the (back then) geography department working with Dr. Luigi Boschetti, processing burned area scenes in Landsat images for MODIS Burned Area validation . As an MPS student, I was a graduate research assistant working with Dr. Boschetti and Dr. Andrea Baraldi on accuracy assessment metrics as well as with the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) working on developing the CARPE Mapper Forest Cover Monitoring tools.
What recommendations would you make to current GEOG/GIS/ENSP majors for career and academic success while they are still undergraduates?
Take programming classes! Python, Java, web languages, anything. Learning the first language is the hardest, but it will pay off down the road. Employers value employees who can program, even if the job title isn’t “programmer”. In terms of academic success, being able to code opens up a lot of opportunities for class projects that are impossible without automation, for example, if the data set is 10 years of daily MODIS acquisitions.
Taking a genuine interest in class projects and other classwork is the best way to ensure success. Keep in mind that GEOG/GIS/ENSP are very broad fields, if students try different subjects within the fields there is a good chance they will find something they can enjoy and be passionate about.
What recommendations would you make to current GEOG/GIS/ENSP majors for career and academic success after graduation?
Keep learning how to code! At graduation, President Loh will say something to the effect of “when you think you know everything, you get a bachelor’s degree. When you realize you know almost nothing, you get a doctorate.” Einstein said “As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.” This is true for life in general, but especially in programming- the more languages you learn, the more you know what you don’t know. That’s where Google and StackOverflow come in, but you have to know what to search for.
Beyond that, stay curious! Keep up with current events and think about how it affects what you do at your job, and how it relates to you as a GEOG/GIS/ENSP major. Also take some time to travel- geography, GIS, and environmental science are important all around the world. Learning how other people see and do things will not only give you a different perspective, it will make you a more interesting person.
Thank you, Michael!