COGS Reflections

First of Term Goals


I recently decided to make a career change and researched into the Advanced Geographic Sciences Diploma. It was a career that I had actually considered when I was in high school.  I job shadowed someone in the field of GIS as part of my Grade 11 Career and Life Management class. After communicating with previous graduates of COGS and employers in the field I felt this would be a very beneficial program for seeking future employment. I enjoy working with computers and exploring their many capabilities. I believe this will be a great program which will fulfill my interests. 


I started my education career by enrolling in business at Dalhousie.  After a year and a half of business I change my studies to math and history.  With the all the talk about an impending teacher shortage, I decided this should be my next step so I enrolled at the University of Maine and received my teaching certification.


I have spent the past 3 years teaching and travelling to different parts of the world. In my first year I taught Social Studies in Fort McMurray. Then I ventured to Northern Ireland to substitute teach enabling me to travel around Europe for a year.  This past year I taught math in Halifax.  Although I enjoy teaching, it has been difficult to find full-time, secure employment so I decide to make a career change. I am not sure what happened with the so-called teacher shortage. There seems to be many teachers still trying to secure a contract.


With a background in math and history I felt this program would compliment my education career. I worried about not having the geography background for the program but was assured there are many students in the program who are in a similar situation. 


My goals of the program are to achieve skills that will help me become more employable in the work force. I also hope to become skilled in GIS to obtain employment in the global workforce. I have been an avid traveler and hope this program will allow me to combine “work” with my passion for travelling.

Mid Year Reflection


After completing the first semester of the Advance Diploma in Geographic Sciences, I feel more comfortable in the program. My initial thought was the program may be too challenging for me without having a geography background. Fortunately, this was not the case. Most courses were introduced at an appropriate pace and required a reasonable amount of work to keep up in the class. One course that I found moved at too fast a pace and provided some difficulty for me was Remote Sensing. The course covered a lot of material I was not familiar with,  in a very short period of time. I feel I would have benefited more from this class if it was spread out over the entire semester rather than condensed into a half semester course.


First semester provided a great basis and introduction to ArcMap components. I feel comfortable with map topology and the basics of creating maps. In second semester I hope to learn and develop more skills and understanding of many more ArcGIS Desktop extensions and tools. I also hope to develop a better understanding of the MapINFO package as an alternative to ESRI products. During first semester, we learned Python and Visual Basic language. In second semester I expect to have a better understanding how these languages are applied to GIS. From Advanced Location Analysis I expect to learn more about the business side of GIS. In my undergraduate degree,  I took 3 semesters of business and have some experience with my family’s business so I look forward to this course providing some insight in how GIS can be applied to my business experiences.


One area to which we have not had much exposure is the marine and nautical areas of GIS. I am hoping to learn more in this area from Digital Mapping techniques in order to become more familiar with both mapping and the nautical side of GIS. From Advanced GIS and Information Systems I anticipate becoming more familiar with databases and geodatabases. In advanced GIS, I am looking forward to using ESRI’s 3D components and extensions such as ArcScene and ArcGlobe.


After completing second semester I hope to be more familiar with many more of the ArcGIS Desktop extensions and tools. Once I have a better understanding of what ESRI has to offer, I hope to find a more specific area of interest on which to focus and develop more advanced skills during my third term project.

Year End Reflection


Now that I have almost completed my year at COGS in the Advanced Geographic Sciences Diploma I feel more confident with ArcGIS Desktop and MapINFO. We used ArcMap and ArcCatalog extensively and explored many of the tools offered by each of these products. The MapINFO/Verticle Mapper course was a terrific course in teaching the MapINFO components and its many functions. From completing Information Systems I feel more confident and comfortable using SQL, SQL*Plus and the UNIX environment. It is easy to see how important the SQL querying language is to GIS and this course did a great job in teaching how to manage, edit and create databases and queries.


Some areas I would to continue to work on are Network Analysis and Advance Location Analysis. I like the components and functions of both of these but find there is a lot more material to cover and to improve. I really enjoy the out of box functions of Network Analysis and how the course applied a lot of the python programming skills acquired from first semester. I feel I have a good basic understanding of python programming but would like to develop more advanced programming skills to take advantage of the many possibilities it offers in the ArcGIS environment. Advance Location Analysis did exactly what I expected and allowed me to combine my business experiences with GIS. I learned a lot from the course but found it difficult at times to keep up with the material being covered. I think a stronger business background would have made it easier to keep up with the material and have a better understanding of the business analyst extension.


In Digital Mapping Techniques we produced a nautical map which was the only exposure to marine and nautical GIS. The course did a great job of exploring and utilizing ArcMap and find tuning of map topology. I think this course would have been of even more benefit if it was offered earlier in the year such as the second half of first semester or first half of second semester.


From my year at COGS I feel much more confident with ESRI products and python programming language. Throughout the year I continued to see how this program could be applied to the classroom and my passion for teaching. Next I plan to use my skills acquired at COGS to help find a teaching job that will allow me to combine my teaching skills with my GIS skills.