Esri Development Centers 2017 Students of the Year

04-15-2017 04:05 PM
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About 30 leading university departments and programs that challenge their students to develop innovative apps and projects on the ArcGIS platform are designated as Esri Development Centers. The most important benefit of the program is a cash prize, certificate, and Esri Press book awarded to a Student of the Year named by each EDC. This year’s crop of EDC students are among the best since the program started in 2008. Here I’ll share brief profiles of 10 outstanding award winners, including the one student selected as Esri's 2017 International Student of the Year. I'm grateful to the students' advisers for making time to document and celebrate their students' outstanding work.

University College London was one of the first EDCs. UCL's Student of the Year for 2017 is PhD candidate Patrick Rickles. Working with Prof. Muki Haklay, Patrick plays a key role in driving citizen science initiatives using GIS as part of the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group. Based on on-going work in the field, Patrick has also worked with Esri to help author a Learn ArcGIS lesson that teaches citizen scientists how they may use Survey123 to record community resources and share them via ArcGIS Online, so that community members may know what may be available in the event of a disaster.

Photo of Patrick Rickles Patrick Rickles

Angie Konovitz-Davern (at right).

The EDC within Rochester Institute of Technology's Department of Information Sciences & Technologies named Angelina “Angie” Konovitz-Davern as its 2017 Student of the Year. Professor Brian Tomaszewski (third from left) called Angie "a vital part" of the team of RIT students who spent their college winter break collecting GPS data points and conducting economic surveys for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at refugee camp in Rwanda. Working with the UNHCR Rwanda office and the Rwandan Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), the RIT group was given access to the Mugombwa refugee camp. Mugombwa lacks the basic reference data needed to provide good maps for workers and residents, who need to navigate the infrastructure and businesses of the camp. Angie developed a survey device using Survey123 for ArcGIS.

The University of Southern California EDC selected GIST masters student Kelly Wright as its Student of the Year. Kelly developed the Chigoe Flea Eradication Project (CFEP) and Tungiasis eLibrary web mapping applications to raise awareness about, and actively combat tungiasis, a little-known disease of the tropics. The CFEP application serves aid workers and nonprofit organizations developing strategies to manage tungiasis by providing a workspace for the collection of georeferenced demographic and treatment data at the local level. At the global level, the Tungiasis eLibrary accepts data generated by users who “volunteer” it in the form of their own and others’ tungiasis-related research.

Kelly Wright

Ruthann Ligon's MGIS capstone project

At Penn StateRuthann Ligon earned the EDC Student of the Year award for developing a new workflow and technologies using volnuteered geographic information to help maintain mountain bike trails at a local regional park. Using Collector for ArcGIS, ArcGIS Online and Web AppBuilder, Ruthann created a mobile app that enables trail users to submit observations electronically at precise locations and a web app that provides repair crews with the ability to efficiently analyze repair needs and keep records of work completed.

Peter Wiringa is the University of Minnesota's EDC Student of the Year for his contributions to the New Agricultural Bioeconomy Project. Collaborative Geodesign is a process that allows groups of diverse stakeholders to “try-on” various landscape designs assisted by a geodesign tool. The tool Peter created provides quantitative feedback on multiple biophysical and social indicators. The goal is to empower stakeholders to assess what landscape designs could meet the demands of a new bio-based economy without sacrificing local and regional scale concerns.

Peter Wiringa's award -winning project at the University of Minnesota

At the University of Salzburg, Azmat Arif earned Student of the Year honors for research that used anonymised mobile and landline phone data to delineate hospital catchment areas in Trinidad and Tobago. By looking beyond patient records the project revealed new patterns of spatial interaction between hospitals and patients.

For his Bachelor thesis at Hochschule Bochum, EDC Student of the Year Matthias Stein created GeoTracker - a smartwatch app that enables users to collect points-of-interest data simply and efficiently. Matthias used the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Android and ArcGIS Online.

Hyeongmo Koo of the University of Texas Dallas developed an ArcGIS extension to find an optimal classification result considering data uncertainty in a map classification. The work is published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers.

At Oregon State University, Michael Bunn's PhD research includes developing GIS-based, computational methods to better define existing landslide hazards and their risk to society, particularly in terms of their impact on infrastructure. In this work, Michael is developing a variety of geospatial analysis techniques to analyze terrain models to automatically identify landslide features to generate robust inventory databases. He then analyzing these databases in conjunction with other geospatial datasets and using them to evaluate risk along a highway. In addition to developing a variety of GIS-based algorithms to accomplish this work, he is producing maps that will soon be utilized by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Michael is developing these tools through a combination of python scripting in ArcMap and developing Matlab code.

Finally, the EDC at ETH Zurich named Lisa Stähli as its 2017 Student of the Year for her project "Pedestrian Navigation in a Virtual Urban Environment: Evaluation of wayfinding directions indicated ...."     

The virtual urban environment created in CityEngine and choreographed in Unity3D.

The project was a collaboration between the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation at ETH Zurich and the Department of Geography at University of California, Santa Barbara. It addresses recent research in the area of pedestrian navigation aids that aims to find alternatives to the widely-used map-based navigation systems. To achieve a level of realism comparable to real-world experiments, Lisa used Esri's CityEngine technology to create the Virtual Urban Environment. The CityEngine model was imported into Unity3D, a game engine where animations and interaction with the navigation systems were added. 

For the extraordinary creative use of Esri technology in research, Lisa was selected as the 2017 Esri Development Center International Student of the Year. As such she's been invited to attend the 2017 Esri Education GIS Conference and Esri User Conference in San Diego, July 8-14.

Time, space and available documentation do not permit profiles of every Student of the Year. Congratulations to honorees at other Esri Development Centers:

Ding Ma, University of Gävle, Sweden
Tara Lopez, Georgia Southern University
Sidharth Prem & Dylan Moteiro, Georgia Tech
Pamina Spachholz, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences
Dawit Gurmessa, University of Maryland
Garland McNew, San Diego State
Joseph Chojnacki, San Francisco State University
Jacquelin Ferguson, Texas A&M

Esri Development Centers are a program of Esri's Education Outreach Team. A flier that describes the program is attached.

About the Author
Education Sector lead | Global Business Development Sr. Lecturer | Penn State University B.S. and M.S. Cartography, University of Wisconsin–Madison GISP, CMS