Friday, November 17, 2017

December MPS Alumni of the Month: Karreem Ali

Name: Karreem Ali
Year of graduation: 2015
Current employment status:
Employer: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Position: GIS Developer
What is a recent project that you have worked on that you have drawn on skills from the MPS program?
I was charged to create a new enterprise geodatabase for an in-house working group. Using the skills that I learned from the spatial database system, and GIS programming classes,  I was able to plan the database, and create an intricate data ingestion system that updates features in the database using Python. I also used the JavaScript, and HTML web programming skills that I learned while in the program to create an administrative health check application to keep up with it all.

How have the skills you have learned in the MPS program helped you progress in your career?
While I was in the program, I worked as an intern for a government agency here in the Metro DC area. From the beginning, I applied the knowledge that I acquired from the program in my internship. The program manager saw the value of my GIS knowledge, and extended my internship from just a semester to a full year. I am proud to say that the scripts and applications I designed for that government agency four years ago are still in use today.

Today, as the only GIS Developer in my line office, I am tasked with a majority of the
large-scale GIS projects. I recently built out an internal enterprise GIS from the ground up; a majority of the skills I have learned in the MPS program were of great benefit to the effort. Some of the skills I have been able to apply from the MPS program include:
  • Scripted automated data ingestion processes using Python
  • Use of spatial analysis tools
  • Construction of GIS databases
  • Creation and design GIS web services
  • Use of agile methodologies in project management

The MPS program has substantially enhanced my career in GIS. What I gained in the program helped me to become a better member of society, a geographic information scientist, and a highly skilled programmer. I am pleased to say that I graduated from this program.

What drew you to the MPS GIS program at Maryland?
I was impressed on how flexible the program was around my schedule. With the responsibility of a full-time internship/job during the workweek, it was important to me that the lectures were held in the evening. Having access to recordings of all the lectures, with the ability to review them whenever I wanted to was essential to my success in the program. The lecturers were cordial, and answered any questions I had; they were always timely, and relatable. Being in a program that recognizes the value of information availability, and access was very important to me.

What advice can you give current and prospective students about the MPS program?
Attend as many GIS meetups and professional development seminars as possible! In doing so, you will meet people of interest, and grow your net worth by increasing your network. Even if the event is not GIS-centric, you will come to find many IT applications have a geospatial component, or could be applied in a geospatial context. For example, I attended a Red Hat Linux developer event where they were making webmaps using some of the same JavaScript APIs as GIS techies do. GIS is everywhere, so be active in sharing its uses by speaking with people and planting seeds of opportunity for yourself. Meet people outside of your genre, venue or line of study.

What recommendations would you make to current students for career and academic success after graduation?
In general, always challenge yourself to learn different tools that you could use in your daily workflow:
If you are not a great programmer, take additional introduction to Python, JavaScript, or other programming language courses online. The UMD allows free access to training, if you are a registered student, so take advantage of this resource while you can! There are also plenty of other courses out there specifically geared toward GIS, you just have to look for them.

If you are more of an advanced user, try to be ahead of the curve with some of the new technologies in IT, and GIS. Right now, in the IT industry, there is a focus on DevOps with tools that help automate, and monitor your software, and hardware infrastructure. The GIS community is starting to use its own flavor of DevOps tools to work with GIS infrastructure. Try to learn as much as possible about these new tools, and others that are on the horizon.

What are some of your hobbies/interests? 
I used to be a mobile DJ during my time as an undergrad, and I still ‘whip out’ the old turntables (...or controllers nowadays) occasionally, to do a ‘gig’, or to play for friends. I am also interested in single board computing with Arduinos, and Raspberry Pi - very useful tools to improve your coding skills. Someday, I plan to build my own DJ controller from one.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Networking is everything. Feel free to reach out on professional social media outlets like LinkedIn, local organizations, and in asking professors for recommendations.

Stay creative!

Senior Marshals Recruitment

The Office of Special Events is currently recruiting for Senior Marshals at the Main Commencement ceremony on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017!

Qualified candidates must be graduating in December 2017 to be selected. If selected, the marshals will represent their college and the entire graduating class. The graduates chosen for this honor will be recognized at the campus-wide graduation ceremony and will receive a medallion commemorating their achievements. Senior Marshals will also assist with the organization of the student processional and will be seated in the front rows for the ceremony. The names of all marshals will be printed in the program and you will be acknowledged as a group from the podium. 

All Marshals are expected to attend both the Commencement rehearsal on Monday, December 18th and the Main Commencement ceremony on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017.

In order to be considered for this recognition, you must complete the online application HERE by 11:59 pm on Sunday, November 19th, 2017. If you have any questions, please contact

YoungMappers Research Fellowship

The YouthMappers Research Fellowship is a 9-month program designed to enlist, enable, and showcase the contributions of open geo-spatial data for research on resilience of vulnerable populations around the world. The proposed research projects must create and use open data, meet a standard of excellence and address the competitive criteria listed in the full call for applications, available at this webpage:

Applications should be submitted by a team of two: 1) a university student (either undergraduate, masters or doctoral level) and 2) his/her faculty mentor or thesis advisor. Eligibility is restricted to members of YouthMappers chapters created and in good standing by December 1, 2017.  The Fellowship will provide support and costs to attend a Research Methodology Symposia in the United States and also a fellowship award of a total of $8,000 to be used as specified in the fellowship guidelines. Networking and additional mentoring by international experts will be part of the program and to connect proposed research results with relevant international stakeholder organizations.
The deadline to apply is January 15, 2018!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

OSM Mapathon tomorrow!

Our Undergraduate Geography club is hosting a map-off  tomorrow from 4-7pm! There will be pizza and we'll be competing against and networking with students and faculty from George Washington University and George Mason University. 

If you haven't yet heard, PhD Student Matt Cooper led the UMD Geography Bowl team to victory at MAD-AAG, ending a 7 year win streak by George Washington University. Let's keep the friendly competition between us and GW in our favor! ;-) See you there!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

GEOG Winter Course Offerings

GEOINT Online Information Session

EVENT: Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Online Information Session
TIME: 7 PM EST on Monday, Nov 20th

The Center for Geospatial Information Science (CGIS) at the University of Maryland is pleased to present the Master of Professional Studies in Geospatial Intelligence (MPS GEOINT). You're invited to join us for an online information session for our master's degree in GEOINT. Reserve your place here today to register for this event.

The MPS GEOINT program provides workforce-focused technical training that gives graduates the skills and expertise to lead new initiatives in the rapidly shifting landscape of GEOINT applications, data collection systems, analytic methods, and mission support. The master's program may be taken on a full-time or part-time basis, and may be taken fully online or on-site. The MPS GEOINT degree can be completed in as little as 15 months.

At the online information session, we will introduce our master’s program in Geospatial Intelligence, and discuss our unique program format, curriculum, class delivery, and the admissions process. The session will feature a comprehensive presentation, and a question and answer section with us. I hope that you will join us to learn how this master's degree can advance your career in the geospatial industry.

We are now accepting applications for admission in Spring 2018 (Application deadline: Feb 15, 2018) and Fall 2018. Full details regarding the programs are available at or contact us at Students with no prior GIS experience are welcome to apply. We are happy to discuss admission requirements on an individual basis.
Don't forget to reserve your place today for this upcoming online information session.

Job Opening with Field to Market