Olympia Koziatek is a Master’s candidate from the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University who attended the Esri Developer Summit this year as part of the ECCE Student Associate program.

I could not have asked for a better time and opportunity to break from my teaching and researching commitments (as well as the continuous Vancouver rain) than to attend the 2016 Esri Developer Summit in sunny Palm Springs, California! Upon arrival, I soon realized that my trip down to California from Canada was relatively short compared to the diverse international attendees flying in from a wide range of countries including Australia, Germany, India, and many more. This impressive assembly of developers was evident at the plenary presentation, where the audience was informed that this was the highest conference attendance to date. A quick glance across the several thousand people in the auditorium verified this statement. In this inspiring and engaging environment, I soon found myself in conversation with a vast array of different professionals from education, government, and industry.

Of these people, I was very excited to meet and converse with my fellow Canadians from Esri Canada and the ECCE Student Associate program. It was great to exchange stories about interests, goals, success, and struggles with other current and former students. As I plan to graduate in the upcoming months, I was thankful for the insightful advice on networking and opportunities with organizations post-graduation from various Esri Canada team members, most specifically Cameron Plouffe.

This event was not just a social gathering but also a collaboration of speakers, technical sessions, and demonstrations. Our keynote speaker this year, known JavaScript supporter and JSON developer Douglas Crockford, inspired the audience with his current work and concluded with thoughtful advice to upcoming developers.

Throughout the event, the attendees were encouraged to explore and interact with the live demonstrations. Here, I had the opportunity to talk to members of Esri’s Emergency Management, GeoEvent Extension, Drone2Map, Web AppBuilder, and technical support teams. I was given great advice and solutions that were directly applicable to my research.

I also attended numerous technical sessions where I learned new workflows in a diverse range of services such as the GeoEvent Extension for Server, Esri CityEngine, statistical package integration with ArcGIS (e.g., Python, R), Drone2Map, Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS, and many more. I was thrilled to have met the current Director of the Esri R&D Center in Zurich, Pascal Mueller, who had a leading role in the development of the fundamental software for my research, Esri CityEngine. Another memorable technical session was the “Getting Data Science with R and ArcGIS” presentation, where I was introduced to new R integration capabilities with ArcGIS. At the end of this presentation, the speakers made reference to additional resources and even gave a shout-out to the R guru sitting next to me, our own Esri Canada member, Cameron.

I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to meet and network with the Esri community, especially the members of Esri Canada and the ECCE Student Associates.

To my new ECCE friends, Spencer Elford and Karl Chastko, good luck with your studies as well as the 2016 App Challenge submission, but remember… the SFU teams will be putting up a good fight! 🙂

Thank you to the Esri Canada Higher Education group for providing me with this opportunity!