Advanced GIS Diploma
I will complete an advanced GIS diploma at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Lawrencetown Nova Scotia. The Centre of Geographic Sciences is Canada’s largest geomatics learning institute. The advanced degree is an intensive 1 year GIS boot camp covering a wide swath of GIS related topics. The level detail and amount of hands on project work at COGS was very impressive and I learned many new programs and technologies used in the GIS industry.
In the first term we covered a wide variety of topics. We had courses on GIS concepts and history, spatial thinking and spatial reasoning. Course projects had us preparing maps, web maps, posters, reports and presentations. We also took an in depth course in remote sensing which covered theoretical applications behind remote sensing and introduced students to ERDAS Imagine for analyzing and preparing remote sensed data. A strong pair of technical courses covered programming in Python and Database Management with SQL. A course on geodessy gave students a strong foundation in geoids, datums, projections, transformations. It also included a field component using a Trimble Juno GPS unit and the Trimble Pathfinder software package to collect field data and prepare map products.
In the second term I chose the Geographic Information Systems for Business concentration. In this concentration I took courses on trade area analysis and the preparation of demographic reports. A course on geoprocessing and modeling allowed us to create custom python scripts which were integrated with ArcMap to perform automated data analysis. In our data mining course we used a variety of tools including IBM SPSS, IBM Modeller, R (statistical programming language) and ArcMap. We explored a variety of ways to explore data and analyse data for hidden trends and forecasting. A course in advanced location analysis tasked us with locating facilities, determining service areas, optimizing routes and determining accessibility. In Serving Maps Online we learned how to use ArcGIS Server to host a web mapping service and use a Web ADF to connect to the portal. A course on Spatial Analysis and Geostatistics we created custom geoprocessing scripts and tools, used spatial stastics tools, analyzed hotspots and learned techniques for kriging.
The first term at COGS started at a run. We began with 7 courses, two of which were half term courses designed to get all the students up to speed quickly. In mapping fundamentals we created a cartographic map depicting Shackleton’s ill-fated voyage in 1914. In the next project we produced chloropleth maps using census data for Nova Scotia. The purpose of the maps was to examine differences caused by using standard deviation, equal interval, quantile and natural breaks methods for classifying data.
The course work for GIS and Spatial Analysis was all done using ESRI ArcGIS 10.2. We started off completing a 24 hour ESRI ArcGis Desktop training course. We then created a fictitious map of Lawrencetown and learned about ArcMaps power labelling features and python integration. We then worked on a project using model builder and exported a model to a custom python script. Another project had us use ArcMap to connect to a online County database and use it to prepare a map. We also used ArcGIS Online (AGOL) to produce and display a web map.
The second half of the course we did big projects that allowed for more in depth data analysis. For the first project we used census data for Nova Scotia and used exploratory regression to predict demand. We learned the statistics behind choosing proper variables for use in a regression. The end product was a map highlighting the residuals for undervalued markets. The second project we zoomed in on Halifax and conducted a trade area analysis for a new store concept. After determining the characteristics of the target market we aggregated census data to find ideal targets. After selecting a site we completed a market analysis of the trade area using the census data set. We also used the World Bank online website to collect a data set for Europe. We then used linear regressions, multiple regressions and geographically weighted regression to create clusters of similar European countries. It was a really good project to learn about data collection, how to compile a big data set, how to fill in missing values and then analyse the data.
In our computer programming course we were taught coding with python. Course work included programs to open and process data files, display graphics and calculate line and polygon intersections. In database fundamentals we used SQL Server 2013 to create databases from scratch, modify and maintain data tables, backup and restore data bases, SQL queries, joins and spatial data bases.
A course in geodesy focused on the core foundation of all spatial data. We learned in detail about geoids, datums and projections. Assignments involved rigorous tests of our understanding of coordinate systems as we teased data sets through a circus of transformations and projections. We also learned in detail about the satellites and systems which provide our GPS signals. The course also had a field component where we took Trimble Juno GPS units outside to collect field data. The importance of preparation of data and careful planning before going into the field were stressed. Afterwards we perform differential corrections on our data sets using the Trimble Pathfinder software package.
I completed a Masters degree in geology at the University of Waterloo. This program involved both course work and a thesis research deposit. My research topic was focused on a unique zone of mineralization at the Marathon PGM-Cu deposit located on the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario. The research was done in conjunction with Stillwater Canada Inc., the Canadian division of the successful Stillwater Mining Inc. out of Billings, Montana. The mineralization zone I studied was coined the ‘W-Horizon’ and it was a lens containing high grades of platinum and palladium mineralization. For my research project I collected detailed drill core samples (over 200 samples) which intersected W-Horizon which I analyzed for lithogeochemistry. I created a data base of detailed chemistry, physical rock descriptions and thin section descriptions. I combined this data set with the Stillwater data set and analyzed the 3D spatial distribution of the W-Horizon. My research involved developing a mathematical model of the W-Horizon to help explain its origin and that could be used to target future exploration work. Here is a link to a digital copy of my thesis, ‘Characterization of High-PGE Low-Sulphur Mineralization at the Marathon PGE-Cu Deposit, Ontario’.
This research position was very interesting and challenging. My research work was guided by Dr. Robert Linnen (University of Western Ontario), Dr. Dave Good (Stillwater VP Exploration during the project) and Dr. Iain Samson (University of Windsor). This excellent team allowed me to present ample times and to integrate ideas from the group into the research project. During the course of this project I presented research at several conferences and meetings. I also regularly attended and presented at the ‘Hard Rock Cafe’ an informal geological research consortium at the University of Waterloo.
I also had the opportunity to take several grad level courses during this degree. I took courses in advanced structural geology, hydrothermal ore deposits, advanced geochemistry and exploration for magmatic sulphur deposits.
I started my undergraduate career at the University of Waterloo as a dual major in earth sciences and computer sciences. This provided me with a strong background in computer science, including software development, scientific computer programming and data types and structures. In second year I transferred programs into earth sciences. My coursework included hydrology, geophysics, geochemistry and geology courses.
I took three geophysics courses two of which were at the fourth year level. Applied Geophysics II focused on data processing, computer modelling and time series analysis. Applied Geophysics III was focused on field work and we ran electrical, electromagnetic, ground penetrating radar, seismic refraction and magnetic surveys. I also completed my BSc thesis project using ground penetrating radar. I collected a set of temporal data over a farm field to measure the response to precipitation events.
I have a strong background in environmental sciences including environmental geology, geomorphology, atmospheric sciences, quaternary geology and geological impacts on human health. I also covered the subjects of physical hydrology and flow through porous media. My studies in hard rock geology included volcanology, igneous petrology, structural geology, and field mapping techniques.