As an ECCE, McMaster University offers a long list of great GIS courses. This year I am enrolled in the Special Topics in GIS course. I have been looking forward to taking this course since second year mostly because of the exciting content that it covers related to topics such as mobile and web GIS, 3D analysis and data visualization as well as data integrity. To the average Joe these topics might not seem very interesting, but for a GIS nerd such as myself this is the ultimate course in GIS application.
After competing in the 2016 ECCE App challenge and attending the Esri Dev Summit, I became much more interested in Web and mobile development of geo apps. Although I have been teaching myself some of the hard skills necessary for web development (such as java script, css and html) it has also been great to receive structured education on this topic within the Esri ecosystem from my instructor Pat Deluca, as well as guest instruction from Esri Canada’s very own Jonathan Van Dusen as part of Special Topics in GIS.
During the unit on 3D visualization, our class looked at different ways to unitize the third dimension to make sense of data through visualization and analysis. The highlight of this unit for me was determining the maximum volume for a proposed development in New Zealand which would remain unseen from view points along a neighboring highway.
In addition to regular course work, I am very excited for the final project of this course, which consists of creating a Story Map Journal for submission to the Esri Global Content Challenge. This contest is particularly interesting to me as it has given me the chance to look through dozens of the layers available in the Living Atlas and familiarize myself more with the ArcGIS online interface as well as Journal Map construction.
Thus far in the course we have covered Web GIS, 3D GIS and Mobile GIS, Mobile GIS being the most recent topic covered. During this portion of the course we were able to utilize the SxPad GPS units provided by McMaster University to get out and map various aspects of campus. This was a lot of fun and made for some fun times in the field.
Looking towards the end of this course I am very excited for the unit on Data Integrity. Although this might seem like a boring topic, accurate data is at the heart of any great spatial analysis project and thus it must be respected. If the second half of this course is as good as the first, then I’m sure it will be great!

Karl Chastko enjoying his mobile mapping lab at McMaster University as part of Geography 4GT3 Special Topics in GIS