Karl Chastko is the subject of this spotlight article as one of McMaster’s top students in ECCE program. He has submitted winning entries in the two most recent story map competitions (the Esri Global Content Challenge, and the International Year of Global Understanding storymap competition).

This year I will be graduating from McMaster University where I am completing an honors degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences with a minor in GIS. As an earth and environmental sciences student, it was totally natural for me to think about problems and processes from a spatial perspective, this is what ultimately led me to GIS. For me GIS is a powerful tool for communicating and understanding data. GIS has helped me broaden my understanding of earth and environmental processes as well as my understanding of how we interacting with the environment.

I could not be more pleased with my decision to go to McMaster. My program has allowed me to investigate geology, hydrology, and geochemistry as well as GIS. Last year I completed my senior thesis in aqueous geochemistry where I develop a field method for quantifying Sulfur Oxidation Intermediates in water samples from natural and anthropogenically altered environments. My degree has also allowed me to fulfill the technical requirements to become a professional geoscientist as well as my GISP.

During my undergraduate degree, I worked hard to explore as many learning opportunities as I could. As such McMaster, has been a great place for me to learn and grow. During my time at Mac, I have competed in two national (2016 ECCE App Challenge and 2017 Imperial Barrel Award), and two international competitions (2016 Global Content Challenge, and 2016 International Year of Global Understanding Story Map Competition). These competitions have all involved mapping and GIS to some extent and they have been excellent opportunities to apply and extent the knowledge and skills I haven’t in the classroom to real world problems.

Excerpt from the 2017 Imperial Barrel Award presentation by McMaster.

As an Esri student associate I have taken full advantage of the perks that come along with the program. I have attended several conferences through this program including the Esri Canada User Conference in Toronto, The Esri Education Conference and the Esri Developers Summit in Palm Springs California. These conferences have all had in impact on the course of my education and have always been great networking opportunities.

Spencer Elford (left) and Karl Chastko (right) at the 2016 Esri Developers Summit.

Outside of my life at McMaster I work part time for Principle Point Geospatial Solutions where I work as a visual observer for drone surveys as well as a GIS tech. I am grateful for the opportunities McMaster has given me, as well as the help from the Esri student associate program, for helping me on my path to becoming a GIS professional.