Geo-Information Science Masters Student Paul Curtis Completes Internship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

M.S. Geo-Information Science student Paul Curtis

Over the summer of 2011, Geo-Information Science Masters student Paul Curtis completed an internship with the U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers at Paint Creek Lake in southern Ohio.  Paul worked with park rangers to delineate the park's boundaries using GPS and GIS technology.  Paul developed a procedure for the park rangers to navigate to specific surveyed points along the boundary line, to edit the data on their GPS units, and to transfer new or updated data back to the main file on the office computers.  Having such a procedure is valuable because, Corps wide, each park has to mark and inspect 25% of its boundary each year.  Paul's work allows for easier wayfinding by park personnel as well as more precise measurement of park boundary length.  In fact, prior to Paul's work, park personnel at Paint Creek Lake had estimated the park's boundary perimeter to be somewhere between 35 and 45 miles in length.  It turned out to be 52 miles!

He said that he really enjoyed the experience.  In addition to his geospatial work, he accompanied park rangers on daily tasks.  These included patrolling park grounds and lake, operating the dam flood gate, and surveying visitors.  Paul said, "My co-workers were great and I enjoyed my time there.  The area in southern Ohio was very rural and I really enjoyed the quiet surroundings."

Paul is in his second year in Salem State's M.S. Geo-Information Science program.  He is originally from Dunmore, Pennsylvania (right next to Scranton).  He obtained his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from the University of Scranton.  Over the years, he has volunteered in three different Americorps funded programs.  He also has 10 years of experience as an analytical chemist in the hazardous waste, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries.  He says, "I had an interest in geology but discovered GIS in researching graduate programs and found it interesting where a GIS could provide meaningful information by analyzing all sorts of data in a spatial context.   I also looked for a field that could be involved in multiple industries.  I chose Salem State because of the smaller class sizes, the accessibility to professors, and the program's affordability.  After the program, I would like to be involved working in either of the conservation, planning, or even marketing areas."

Paul's work with the Army Corps of Engineers and park personnel is illustrative of growing interest across a variety of government and private organizations in the value of geospatial technology.  Paul reports, "The Corps and even other federal recreational areas are making a push for this [use of geospatial technology].  So, there may be more internships in the future for GIS students."  Paul is the second graduate student from Salem State's Geo-Information Science program to intern with the Army Corps of Engineers over the last three years.  Let's keep that channel open!