Location matters: experience of a GIS student

By Raimundo Neto, international student from Brazil studying at Selkirk College

Location matters. That’s the motto for those who are into Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This area of study which brought me to Canada, more specifically British Columbia. Location is not only important for the spatial data itself, but also for the person in front of the screen who is studying or working with that data.

When I say I’m from Brazil, a lot of people reply, “Oh I would love to go there!” Brazil is in fact blessed with a lot of good things, but with all the violence, corruption, political and economic crisis going on, I was happy to move from there to continue my education and career. Not only to move from there, but specifically to move to British Columbia.

Canada has always been ranked as one of the top countries in education. Canada was one of the pioneers in the research, development and education around GIS and is also one of the biggest markets for these systems. Like Brazil, Canada is also a pretty big country which hosts lots of different landscapes, people, cultures and development levels. British Columbia is definitely one of the most developed provinces in the country and also a tech-cluster because it is home to a lot of start-ups. Besides that, BC is not only a great location to study and work with GIS and other technologies, but also to explore breath-taking mountain and ocean scenery!

Co-op programs like Selkirk College’s Bachelor in GIS offer not only academic education to students, but also professional experience before advancing to the job market. Luckily, I got an opportunity with the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (CBRDI). At CBRDI, I analyze data about local communities and I’m also a part of a forestry grant for innovation enhancement, specifically quantifying post-harvest wood-residue using drone images for biomass utilization – way safer, faster and cheaper than traditional field methods, using GPS or especially manual measurements.

Forestry is the foundation economy in 140 communities in BC, and 40% of regional economies are dependent on forest products (BC Council of Forest Industries – 2016), contributing to more than $ 7 billion to the provincial GDP (more than 3%) (Forestry Innovation Investment – 2018). Harvesters measure their waste primarily for cut control and stumpage fees, but there are estimates that 60% of the world renewable energy can be in the form of biomass fuel by 2030 (IRENA 2014), so, since wood is the largest biomass energy source today (World Bioenergy Association 2016), the need for accurate and quick estimation of residue has never been greater. (Davis 2017). Studying in BC is not only a memorable life experience, but can also be such a career opportunity for the present and for the future!

References:

  • BC Council of Forest Industries. 2017. British Columbia’s Forest Industry and the B.C. Economy in
[Accessed 2018 Dec. 5th]

https://www.cofi.org/wp-content/uploads/BC-Forest-Report-FINAL-Sept-2017.pdf

  • Davis B. 2017. Refinement of a Drone-Based Method for Estimating Coarse Woody Debris and Biomass Residue Following Forest Harvest. [Accessed 2018 Oct. 1st]

https://getd.libs.uga.edu/pdfs/davis_brian_j_201708_ms.pdf

http://www.irena.org/publications/2014/Sep/Global-Bioenergy-Supply-and-Demand-Projections-A-working-paper- for-REmap-2030

  • World Bioenergy Association. 2016. World Energy Council: World Energy Resources and
[Accessed 2018 Oct. 1st]

https://www.worldenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/WEResources_Bioenergy_2016.pdf

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