Spencer Elford is a student from the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University. On October 14th, he along with several of his McMaster colleagues were able to attend the Esri Canada Toronto User Conference. Spencer explains how he benefited from his first GIS-related conference.

This past October I was given the chance to attend the Esri Canada User Conference in Toronto. Seeing as this was my first opportunity to attend a GIS-related conference, I went in with my own ideas of what to expect. Having now reflected on that experience, I can safely say that the conference far surpassed any expectations I had. It was a not only an enriching and thought provoking experience from a student user standpoint, but an excellent opportunity to connect with like-minded peers and industry representatives from across Canada. Being able to speak with professionals and students alike was an incredibly valuable experience for me to better my understanding of what is new in the Esri world, and learn from GIS professionals from all areas of the industry.

Spencer Elford.

At McMaster University, I have been given the opportunity to develop my skills through a variety of academic outlets. Through my school’s designation as an Esri Canada Centre of Excellence and an Esri Development Center, I have been afforded the opportunity to further my skills outside the classroom through numerous extracurricular workshops and conferences. At the Toronto User Conference, I chose to attend tutorials on Web App Development and Smart Mapping. These workshops provided me with an excellent introduction to a range of Esri products and demonstrated some of the exciting capabilities these new technologies can provide. These tools fascinated me greatly as they truly demonstrated the integration of powerful GIS tools into everyday life.

The theme of the conference, “Applying Geography Everywhere”, stuck with me throughout the experience. No longer was geography and cartography restricted to dusty atlases and faded wall-maps. Now the value of geography and GIS could be truly brought to light, as I saw how applications such as Web Mapping brings the full power of GIS to an everyday user. For someone in the early stages of their GIS career, this realization brought about a sense of excitement as I knew I would have the opportunity to be a part of this paradigm shift. I look forward to more exciting opportunities to build my GIS knowledge base and have set my sights on the GIS in Education and Research Conference in November!