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SFU students get a chance to shine at Esri Canada UC

College and university students are encouraged to attend Esri Canada User Conferences to learn about existing and new Esri technology, network with GIS professionals and, in select cities, to present their work. Read about an undergraduate class from the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University who presented their projects at the Vancouver UC.

Esri Canada supports teaching and learning GIS at colleges and universities in Canada through a number of initiatives. One of these is encouraging student participation at Esri Canada User Conferences. Last November, Dr. Suzana Dragicevic, a professor from the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University (SFU), and undergraduate students from her fourth-year Spatial Modelling (GEOG 451) course attended the 2015 Esri Canada User Conference (UC) held in Vancouver. According to Dr. Dragicevic, the goal of the course is to provide students with advanced theoretical and practical skills in the spatial modelling of dynamic geospatial phenomena. This goal is accomplished through the integration of GIS and cellular automata or agent-based modelling to help students in their model development for their course research projects.

Dr. Dragicevic (left) and students from her GEOG 451 course attending the Esri Canada User Conference in Vancouver.

Throughout the course, students are required to use a variety of different software tools, including ArcGIS for Desktop, to conduct their research. Several of the students from the fall 2015 term had the opportunity to present posters at the Vancouver UC on their research projects dealing with the development and implementation of geosimulation models. The posters covered a wide range of topics and included models that addressed spatial population expansion, urban growth, flooding, soil erosion, ice sheet retraction and forest insect infestations. Encouraging students to present their work at the User Conference was part of a project funded by an SFU Teaching & Learning Centre Development Grant aiming to engage undergraduate students as researchers and scientists. Taylor Anderson, a PhD student working with Dr. Dragicevic in the Spatial Analysis and Modelling (SAM) Lab, was also involved in this project as a research assistant.

SFU students from GEOG 451 presenting posters at the conference.

Student attendance and participation at the User Conference was fully supported by Esri Canada and the SFU Esri Canada Centre of Excellence within the Geography department and the Faculty of Environment as part of the Esri Canada GIS Centres of Excellence (ECCE) initiative.

We'd like to thank Dr. Dragicevic for her contributions to this blog post. Find out more about Dr. Dragicevic and the SAM Lab research group at SFU here, or learn more about the ECCE program and the schools that are currently involved at the ECCE Web site.

Students from the GEOG 451 class networking and enjoying refreshments at the conference.

(With contributions from Cameron Plouffe, Esri Canada Higher Education Developer / Analyst)

About the Author

Krista Amolins is a Higher Education Developer and Analyst in the Esri Canada Education and Research group. Her responsibilities include developing resources for use by students and faculty at colleges and universities, focusing particularly on LiDAR, JavaScript and Android app development; collaborating on projects with researchers at select universities; and coordinating the Esri Canada scholarship programs. She has a PhD in Geomatics Engineering from the University of New Brunswick and also holds the Esri ArcGIS Desktop Associate Certification.

Profile Photo of Krista Amolins