Following university I enrolled in the Advanced Diploma in Geographic Sciences program at the Centre of Geographic Science (COGS). This intensive, one-year, post-graduate level program is designed to provide students with a sophisticated set of tools to work in the field of geographic sciences. During the first term, I learned to use various geomatic tools and technologies including GPS, remote sensing, python programming, database management, mapping fundamentals and how all of these support the geographic sciences. The second term was more specialized as you choose among concentrations in Remote Sensing, GIS or GIS for Business. I chose the Geographic Information Systems Concentration and furthered my programming, geo-processing, database, and general GIS skills.

The final portion of this program involves putting all the skills to practice by completing a Capstone Project. For my project I am working with Hastings County in Ontario to develop multiple infrastructure maintenance applications, using Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS, for one of their member municipalities (Figure 1). The Hastings GIS department services the smaller member municipalities within the county who lack their own GIS department. Currently the community’s data is held as part of the county GIS and delivered to them through various viewers, but the community itself has no way to track/edit/report maintenance issues. For this reason they are looking for an editable application open to the municipal staff so they can edit/update/report on various features in the Town (Figure 2). In so doing, the power and potential of the County GIS is made accessible without having to invest in additional hardware/software/staff. Such a project can also work as a framework to be extended to the other member municipality in the future.

Figure 1. An example of the interface of one of the applications.
Figure 2. An example of one of the forms used within the applications. This one is for tracking water main breaks.

Beyond the classroom, COGS provides almost endless opportunity to explore any facet of GIS one might be interested in. The small community size means students learn to work together and gain the soft skills of teamwork and communication necessary for the workforce. Additionally, the faculty, who are willing and able to help with any problem, are always accessible. As I finish up at COGS, I am extremely excited to put these new skills to practice in a new career and am confident that the program has prepared me for whatever lies ahead.