Daniel Park, a UC Santa Barbara alum who earned his BA in Geography with an Emphasis in Geographic Information Science (GIS), has been working as an Engineering Aide for Ventura Water (City of Ventura’s Water Resources & Planning Department) for the past year since graduating in Spring 2017. Park has been researching record drawings and geo-referencing them to City’s parcel layers and aerial imagery in order to record city water assets (i.e. locations of water lines, valves, and hydrants) into their GIS. Attribute information such as type of material, diameter, and install date are also recorded. Occasionally, he get special assignments like making maps to be included in a report or creating ESRI format GIS layers (also known as shapefiles).
Among other things, the City of Ventura is using GIS to capture city assets and tie them to the city’s asset management system.
During his time as a student, Park completed both the GIS and Remote Sensing 3 course series.
“Personally, I think that UCSB’s GIS coursework is great in that it is not focused using specific GIS software. The course was focused on how GIS is used, common problems that arise from using GIS (e.g. MAUP, polygon slivers, pinning a location as the center/location when it can encompass a large area), and trains students to be analysts (thinkers), not just technicians.”
“There are great local colleges that already train students in the use of specific software and these schools excel in teaching these student useful and necessary skills. The Department of Geography’s GIS program take students to another level by teaching them to think independently of software, onto theoretical and conceptual frameworks which is undoubtedly an asset, but can appear a liability at the beginning.”
When enrolled in the Remote Sensing courses, Park stated that he found it useful viewing aerial imagery because he often has to locate valves and hydrants from aerial photos or Google Street View at his current job. “Understanding the basics of remote sensing not only is useful, but also makes viewing the photos interesting as it engages my mind in ways it wouldn’t have, had I not taken the course” said Park. His favorite professor was Professor Vena Chu because she was “patient and open to answer all of my questions”.
Park interned for ZWORLD GIS (located just 10 minutes away from campus) where he digitized watershed and sub-watershed boundaries just north of campus. He worked on identifying and digitizing structures and buildings which would be used by the fire department during emergencies. “It is from my internship where I really learned to use the GIS software and apply it to the real world.”
The practical knowledge and preparation students get on an interdisciplinary and technical level from our Professors truly speaks for itself. “When I came into work for Ventura Water, I was ready to go. I had a great and detailed written manual by a former employee (also a UCSB Alumni) and using the manual, GIS/RS education, and internship experience, I had zero issues getting my work done.” Not only do our course offerings prepare students for careers in GIS, Engineering, Data Analysis, and Research (and more!) but they seem to inspire graduates and open their eyes to different aspects of our surroundings. “All my geography courses, especially ‘Ocean and the Atmosphere (GEOG 3A)’ and ‘Ocean Waves (GEOG 165)’ ‘color’ the way I view the world and makes work infinitely more interesting,” shares Park.
Advice from an Alum:
“I must add that I have work experience prior to college, but it really comes down to studying (working hard to acquire knowledge), internship experience, and resourcefulness.”
“Python programming—at the very least being able to edit scripts—has also been very helpful and should not be ignored…Good luck!”
“To Professors: Krzysztof Janowicz, Jennifer King, Joe McFadden, Dar Roberts, Libe Washburn, Werner Kuhn, Alan Murray, Keith Clarke, Nick Nidzieko and to graduate students: Brandi, Sara, Sasha, Mingquan, Bo Yan, Rui, Erica Goto, Javier, Frank, and Kelsey….thank you for imparting knowledge to me and for your instruction!”
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