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  • Major BS, Environmental Science minor, Geographic Information Systems and Technology
  • Work history GIS technician and Project Manager at Kaart

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Every day, I get to come into a beautiful office downtown Grand Junction on Main Street. My mornings are spent enjoying a cup of coffee as I check lines of internal, and external communication. Maintaining an open line of communication with Kaart's clients is one of my primary responsibilities. At any given time, if they contact me, I must be available, as they frequently request time-sensitive work to be completed.

When there are no pressing tasks to be completed, I default to the more routine work. With these tasks, I'm required to begin testing tools from Kaart's clients and working with their data to improve data quality in different areas of the world in OpenStreetMap, the worlds foremost open-source map. I work to respond to error messages submitted by drivers in areas of the U.S. and the UK to enhance data where navigation led them astray. This aids in creating a better overall map, and heartier navigation software. Additionally, I use very-high-resolution satellite imagery to add and improve data in areas of the U.S. and use all sources possible to identify traffic closures in Denver and Seattle.

On top of my work at Kaart, I have the privilege of teaching a course on open source GIS at CMU this semester!

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career? 

Perhaps the most valuable resource gained from my experience at CMU was the connections I made. Undoubtedly, I learned a great deal about the environment and the anthropogenic impact we have on it the way ecosystems function and how we restore them, and the ins and outs of a Geographic information system. Thus far, I attribute much of my success at CMU and the success I have had since graduating to the people I met along the way. 

Without the help of friends and mentors at CMU, I would not be where I am today. Many have shown undying support for the steps I have taken in my life in recent years, and I hope to be able to turn those successes into betterment for my community and support for others striving to embark on a career journey.

What was your transition like from being a student to your career position? 

Fast! I had virtually no break between graduating and starting my career. The graduation ceremony was on Saturday, and I started my full-time position here at Kaart the proceeding Monday; however, everything was really exciting. All of a sudden I had free time, money and a routine that resembled something of a normal human being. I was (and still am) eager to grow and thrive in my position. Transitioning from a student to a professional was a time of prolific learning and creating a vast new network of friends and co-workers.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

What set me aside from other applicants was my experience and background. Not only did I have a degree in GIS, but I had extensive experience as an undergraduate. During my time at CMU, I was lucky to be apart of research involving image analysis of very-high resolution drone collected multispectral imagery. These projects grew my knowledge with GIS data and doing research on novel technologies in the GIS field.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

It's all worth it. Every late night, every cram-session, every hour spent staring at screens and typing until your fingers are callused. When you reach the finish line, you will be a completely different person than you were when you started the race. Your perspective will change, your outlook on life itself may even change, but you will endure a tremendous amount of growth over the next four years that will be permanently embedded in who you are. The amount of pride you will feel after completing something you put blood, sweat and tears into over four years will feel unlike anything else in this world. So remember to take deep breaths, and don't doubt yourself.

Connect with Gray on LinkedIn

Published 4/10/2019

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