For the past 15 years, a student from Western Kentucky University's GIS (Geographic Information Systems) program has been selected for an assistantship to participate in the annual Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) International GIS User Conference in San Diego.
This year's recipient is GIScience student Ryan Uthoff of Lebanon. Uthoff recently participated in the 38th Annual Esri User Conference, working half-days during the week in exchange for conference registration, workshops, meals and lodging. Esri selects 60 graduate and fourth-year undergraduate students from a pool of applicants for the competitive scholarships from universities and colleges throughout the United States. Immediately after graduating in May, Uthoff began work as a GIS analyst for Hydromax USA in Louisville, Ky.
The conference is held annually at the San Diego Convention Center during the summer, bringing together GIS professionals, practitioners and educators from every sector to share real-life GIS experiences, practices and tips. There are also vendor and map displays from all over the world. Uthoff flew to San Diego on June 24 to begin preparation for the conference. More than 15,000 professionals from around the world attended last year's conference, and this year the number of attendees was anticipated to be around 17,000.
"This conference is the largest of its kind in the world," said Kevin Cary, WKU's GIS Center director. "It's a great opportunity to bring together GIS professionals and alike from every sector of GIS imaginable to discuss workflows, and it's a great chance to meet up with fellow WKU graduates."
Uthoff and Cary both presented at the conference a portion of Uthoff's FUSE grant research on mapping high tunnels in Kentucky. They also had a chance to meet with recent WKU GIS graduates David Evans and Sami Almudaris. Evans was one of WKU's first graduates in the GIScience major in 2011 and is the GIS coordinator for the City of Bardstown. Almudaris graduated from WKU's Geoscience master's program in 2011, earned a Graduate Certificate in GIScience and is a geospatial analyst with Saudi Aramco using GIS and its 3D capabilities for oil exploration.