My Statement of Purpose to Grad School

Dear University of Colorado Denver:

I am applying for your Masters of Engineering in Geomatics and GIS. I have a Bachelors in Geography, gained in 2006, from the University of Texas at San Antonio. I have been working since then here in Colorado in the geospatial sector ever since. I am currently employed at a local engineering firm CH2M as a GIS Analyst in the Oil, Gas, and Chemicals group. In a 10% role I am also the geospatial technical steward for the firm.

I have been searching for a program like this for a very long time. American academia is littered with GIS certificate programs, and master’s degrees, with very little time spent on the fundamentals of geomatics and geospatial technology. In the United States, there exists an ever-widening gap between what we call, “survey”, and GIS—whereby the former is looked upon as a trade, and the latter is viewed as a niche career with heavy dependence on vendor specific software suites. Because this happens to be a phenomena heavily present in the United States, the long-term effects of perpetuating this will ultimately result in low geospatial literacy in the United States when compared internationally. More participation in programs like yours will serve to mend this issue, and I seek to be part of that solution.

To further expound upon this gap in knowledge between these roles, there is also a heavy dependence on easy solutions by utilizing GUI-driven GIS software. Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with the spirit of this convenience, I am interested in learning the science behind the tools, and arming myself with the ability to perform the same analysis in long-hand, should this be required of me in the future.

There has also been a rebirth of the photogrammetric practice with the prevalence of data collected with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Given this flood of high resolution data, there needs to be more consciousness of the requisite science that must be practiced to deliver quality, accurate outputs.

In closing, I knew that at one point it would be time to resume my education beyond my Bachelors. I always told myself that I wouldn’t attain my masters until I found a world issue or opportunity that I needed to pour my passion into. I truly believe that time is now.

Alex Mahrou