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Setting the Bar High
Students from Washington College’s GIS Lab this year are racking up awards, job offers, and national presentations.
Jeffrey Sherwood ’16 knew a little bit about geographic information systems (GIS) when he was in high school, but he didn’t really get hooked until during a freshman mapping class at Washington College. Fast-forward three years, and Sherwood, an international studies major with a concentration in peace and conflict studies, is now a top leader at Washington College’s GIS Lab, and this year won a $5,000 tuition scholarship from the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.
Sherwood’s success story is only one of many this year at the GIS Lab, run by Stewart Bruce, assistant director of the College’s Center for Environment & Society.
Two of Bruce’s students who interned at Booz Allen Hamilton this summer have been offered fulltime positions upon graduation: Steve McFall ’16, an anthropology major, and Josh Hyde ’16, majoring in history and anthropology. As a high-school senior, McFall earned a $2,000 scholarship from the USGIF, and he started working in Bruce’s lab the summer before he matriculated at Washington College after attending several of Bruce’s GIS summer high school camps.
And 10 students and one recent graduate from the GIS Lab presented this year at the annual GEOINT Symposium—an annual national gathering organized by USGIF which draws thousand of attendees, among them powerhouses in business technology, federal, state, and local governments, NGOs, defense and intelligence contractors, and other industries and agencies that utilize GIS.
The students and their poster presentations, representing projects informing issues in the environment, public safety, and history, among others, are:
- Katie Walker ’17, Poplar Island landscape analysis;
- Daniel Benton ’17, Town of Easton stormwater system analysis;
- Elizabeth Stackowitz ’17, Eastern Shore harvest directory;
- Hannah Ruff ’16, database power and functionality;
- Brad Janocha ’16, Darfur groundwater project;
- Patrick Huff ’19, E-Tix routing and hotspot analysis for enhanced DUI enforcement;
- Hank Chen Zhu ’19, potential risks after events at Camden Yards (a liquor license service area analysis);
- Brian Gicking ’16, density analysis of homicide and non-fatal shooting frequency in Baltimore City;
- Shane Manske ’18, density analysis of crime concentration relative to vacant lots in Sandtown-Winchester;
- Casey Williams ’18, density maps tracking yearly changes in Baltimore City vehicle thefts;
- Luis Machado ’13, reconstructed Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment.
Sherwood, who already holds top-secret federal security clearance after two internships in the national security field, says the real-world work students do in the GIS Lab gives them an enormous leg up after they graduate.
“I didn’t realize how important GIS could be in terms of whatever you are doing,” he says of his initial experience with the discipline. “It has so many places it can be utilized. Definitely it’s a skill that after I graduate I can put it on a résumé and talk about in depth to help me get a job.”