As we embark on a new academic year next week, I found myself reflecting on the students we bid farewell to this summer.   The three graduating seniors, who all worked as GIS Technicians this past year, came to CGIS from varied backgrounds: James Parmeter has earned his M.S. degree in Environmental Sciences after having previously completed an undergraduate degree at the College of the Adirondacks. Justin Mannion had completed a certificate in GIS at CCBC before transferring to Towson to complete his B.S. degree in Geography and Environmental Planning. Alex Stapleton has earned his degree in Sociology, with a minor in Geography and Environmental Planning.

The goal of the CGIS student experiential education program is to achieve a win-win-win for students, Towson University, and the greater GIS community.

  • The students gain relevant real-world experience in preparation for a successful transition into the workforce. In addition, they acquire a group of professional contacts at CGIS who are willing to share knowledge, advise on potential career paths, review resumes and even conduct mock job interviews.
  • Towson University wins by providing a well-rounded educational experience and helping CGIS to fulfill its mission of involving students in meeting the needs of its clients.
  • The GIS Community, (private sector, government and education), wins by having access to highly qualified Towson graduates who are prepared to make positive contributions putting GIS to work in a variety of settings.

James, Justin and Alex were initially hired to work together as a team, performing wireless broadband verification testing for the MD Broadband Mapping Initiative. The field work involved navigating to over 1,000 test sites and recording speed tests on nine devices. Test locations were established by creating a 4 square mile grid over Maryland and geocoding the grid centroids to the nearest address. In Baltimore City, grid cell size was reduced to 2 square kilometers to help identify local variations in service. The results of this work can be seen at and navigating to the Speed Test results section of the Broadband Map.

Alex, Justin, and James recording speed tests on mobile devices

With the field work wrapped up at the end of last summer, the students settled into the office and began contributing to a variety of other CGIS projects. In addition to processing the wireless verification data they collected, they all contributed greatly in helping to build a database of Maryland Community Anchor Institutions, also in support of the Broadband Mapping initiative. Justin turned his attention to a CGIS-sponsored internship, performing outreach to County GIS Coordinators, promoting and expanding the documentation of Maryland GIS data for the RAMONA GIS Inventory. Justin also created custom maps for the Maryland Humanities Council, and worked with James to perform demographic analysis and produce maps for the Back River Restoration Committee. James also produced an updated set of off-campus shuttle route maps for Towson University. Alex became involved with a variety of tasks supporting Maryland’s MD iMap resource, including developing and posting map service descriptions and testing services and applications during the MD iMap migration to AGS v10. An interest in web-mapping technologies led Alex to complete an independent study on this topic. He was able to consult with CGIS programming staff to gain valuable insight and advice for this work.

We congratulate James, Justin and Alex for earning their degrees, thank them for a job well done here at CGIS, and wish them all much success as they begin this next phase of their lives.

David Sides is a Project Manager for the Center for GIS at Towson University.