Audrey Lothspeich ’17

12 July 2016

Audrey Lothspeich 2017 

Office: ENTS
Position: GIS Lab Assistant
Major: Biology

What do you do in this position?

GIS stands for Geospatial Information Systems, so generally speaking I work with geospatial data (like coordinates) to produce digital maps for people to use. It’s similar to cartography, but instead of just drawing features, I work with features of a landscape to analyze data or solve problems.

Specifically, I’m currently working to produce a digital map of campus. Because Grounds Management wants to have a better understanding of pervious/impervious surfaces on campus, I’m using aerial photographs and surveys of campus to accurately delineate all the landscaping types from pavement.

How did you get your position?

I took the class Landscape Ecology (which uses GIS software) and loved it. I then took Intro to Geospatial Analysis, the class which is specifically about GIS, and thought it was something I would like to pursue. So, I spoke with the professor of both classes, Tsegaye Nega, about wanting to work in the GIS lab and got the position.

What new skills have you acquired?

I think the most important skill I’ve acquired is a more practical understanding of the GIS software I work with. While I’ve taken classes that deal with the software, using it for a one-time assignment is different than using it as part of larger projects for a specific purpose. I think it’s been a really valuable way to increase my knowledge of this software.

How will your student employment experience help you in your future?

Working with GIS is something I’ve seriously considered as a career to pursue after Carleton, so this job has been really important to getting the experience I would need to do that. More generally, it’s work that’s very problem-solving and detail-oriented. Being able to think through problems and pay attention to smaller aspects of the work would be important in any career I pursue.

What type of person do you feel is best suited for this position?

It’s very detail oriented work. For the project I’m currently working on, for example, it’s a lot of small scale work tracing parts of campus. So, if you find this kind of detailed work boring, it’s probably not for you. All these details are sometimes punctuated with getting stuck—maybe you don’t know how to get the software to represent what you want it to, for example. In that case, you have to be willing to work through a problem, or at the very least ask for help. Because of this, you should also be open to tackling new, unfamiliar things.

What do you like best about your student employment position?

Of course, I really enjoy GIS, so the opportunity to do that for a job is great. I also really appreciate that I have the opportunity to help people on campus with the work I do. Lastly, all the people I work with are very nice and it’s a great environment to be a part of. All around, it’s a great job—more than enough things to like!


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