My name is Joshua Staboon and I am an ECCE Student Associate from the Centre of Geographic Sciences. I have a Honours Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Minor in GIS from McMaster University. I also have an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Sciences: GIS from the Centre of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia.

Going through university and getting some GIS education can be a rewarding experience and open opportunities for some. But for most of us, jobs require a greater skill set which may often include some hands on hard skills most universities don’t provide. There are a few options for expanding your GIS horizons after university, I chose COGS or the Centre of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. This school is located in western Nova Scotia in the beautiful Annapolis Valley and is associated with  the Nova Scotia Community College. This school offers a variety of GIS and Geomatics related education ranging from GIS and Cartography to Surveying and Marine Geomatics. It provides education for people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you’re an undergraduate, just out of high school or looking to improve credentials at the midpoint of your career, COGS probably has something to offer you. When my university education was drawing to an end, I knew that I needed to improve my skill set but wasn’t ready to jump into a Masters of Science. A unique thing about COGS is that although it’s a 1 year technical program, you could do an additional year afterwards towards a masters. That flexibility was a draw for me, and many people who venture to COGS.

I took the Advanced Diploma in Geographic Sciences: GIS Concentration. It’s a 1 year program where you study the programming and application of geographic information systems (GIS) or geospatial technology. Like the other two concentrations (business and remote sensing) it is divided into two terms, the first term is a general term where you take 8 courses that cover a wide array of topics related to GIS. Remote sensing, web development, databases, programming, GIS and spatial analysis, geodesy, mapping fundamentals and spatial thinking are the subjects of the first term. The second term is where you have freedom to choose from a list of courses centred around different applications of GIS. You are free to take courses to match your career goals or improve on areas you may feel you’re insufficient. A particular advantage of the Advanced Diploma in Geographic Sciences, is the great flexibility and wide exposure to a variety of topics. The professors are extremely knowledgeable and the possibilities are quite grand. The skills learned in this 1 year program can provide a reasonable start to big ambitious projects. If you have had an idea in mind for a project, COGS is the place to get it done. Not only do you live in an area with little distraction, but you have unlimited access to great technology and educational resources. Most of Esri’s technology is readily available including other programs that you may have not had access to in University. It’s a 9 month intensive program that will certainly provide the building blocks to really create an impressive portfolio if you are willing to put the work in.

Two of the projects that I have had the opportunity work on are included below.

The first is a 3D scene created with Drone2Map by Esri which utilized a Phantom 3 Professional UAV to create the following scene:

This was a very intensive project which processed 350 photos of the Centre of Geographic Sciences, into a 3D scene. It involved many flights and rigorous planning.

The second project I had the opportunity to work on was the ECCE App Challenge. In this challenge you are given a topic and 1 week to create a web mapping application that relates to the topic. The topic this year was sustainable transportation and the application our team built was around sustainable transit in Halifax. It can be viewed here (

COGS has been where I have had the biggest freedom to explore my interests. More information about the projects mentioned above and other projects will be in future blog posts.