The Results of the Skills Canada - Manitoba GIS Competition 2014

April 25, 2014 Angela Alexander

Every year Manitoba high school students participate in the Skills Canada - Manitoba GIS competition. This year, students were tasked to solve one of the competition's most challenging problems to date using ArcGIS for Desktop. Read more about the competition and the details of this year's challenge. Plus, get insight from the competition's three-time gold medal winner.

The Skills Canada - Manitoba Secondary GIS Competition was held on Thursday, April 10th at Red River College in Winnipeg. As usual, the competition challenged the students to apply their GIS and spatial analysis skills to a real-world project.

This year's project involved solving a forestry planning problem. Competing students were asked to assume the role of a GIS technicians working for a fictional forestry company. Their task: use ArcGIS for Desktop to locate suitable forest stands for harvesting that incorporated company and government legislation, regulations and policy. These limitations required the students to think in terms of environmental, economic and operational issues to complete an analysis that would identify suitable stands to harvest that met these requirements. Students were then asked to produce two maps for their final output. The first was a classified map of the "good wood" stands so that field assessments could take place. The second map required the students to create an age class map, where they integrated forest harvesting boundaries into the existing forest inventory data in a complete model replacing the existing polygon details with newly updated information.

Figure 1.1: Sam Waters, Skills Canada - Manitoba 2014 map.

Over the course of five intensive hours students handled this problem in a variety of ways. A panel of five judges from the Manitoba GIS Users Group (MGUG) assessed the students’ process, cartography and accuracy to determine the placement of each team.

Congratulations to Levi Stark, who received silver at this year’s final competition and Sam Waters, who won his third straight gold medal. Sam had some words of wisdom to share with other students: “The Manitoba Skills Competition is a great experience and a huge asset to anyone studying and expanding their knowledge of GIS. Not only do we tackle an extremely challenging problem, but we also have the opportunity to talk to post-secondary students about where GIS can take them in the future. This year, we probably had the toughest GIS problem that I've ever had to attempt, but at the end of the day I am not complaining.  After all, we do not learn by doing easy things over and over again.”

Read our previous blog post on Skills Canada to find out how you can involve your students in next year’s competition and visit our Skills Canada page to explore previous competition questions from Manitoba.

Thank you to Steven Hills from Assiniboine College and Rob Langston from Neelin High School for your contribution to this blog post.

About the Author

Angela Alexander

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

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