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December GeoMentor Spotlight: Deborah Huber

12-09-2019 01:44 PM
Occasional Contributor
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Each month we feature GeoMentor volunteers to showcase the wonderful talent available in our community to assist K-12 schools.

Read our full collection of GeoMentor spotlights online. Want to be featured? Information is available on our program website.
Name: Deborah Huber, GISP
Position/Job and Affiliation: GIS Analyst, NAVFAC EURAFCENT, GeoReadiness Center Naples, Italy
What was your favorite class in K-12? Marine Biology

How did you first learn about and/or use GIS?  I was a CAD Tech and used .shp files to start concept plans for laying out new subdivisions for rezoning applications. My GIS guy had to take a month off, so he taught me how to extract my own .shp files. I was hooked and eventually took over his job when he left for an Environmental Engineering firm. I followed him there a year later. We are still friends.


Name one thing you love about GIS and/or geography: I was fascinated by my Dad’s National Geographic magazines as a kid. I’d read every bit of every issue – and especially loved the maps. GIS is a way to “visit” a place without actually traveling there. Now that I am working this contract in Italy, I’m able to visit in-person some of the places I’d only seen in aerial imagery. Bonus: The famous Map Gallery at the Vatican is just an hour train ride away!


Why did you want to volunteer as a GeoMentor? My previous employer had an annual STEM program. The students spend a week with us and we teach them about our career paths – Architectural, Engineering…and GIS. Most kids walk in having no idea what GIS is. It was great to see their eyes light up as they realize they’ve been using GIS for years (navigating in their cell phones). Now they have a small idea of that well as how data is collected using Trimble equipment and cellphone apps.

What kind of GeoMentor volunteer opportunity and experience are you looking for? I’m hoping once I get settled in here that we can start a STEM program for the local students.

If someone asked you why they should learn about GIS and/or geography, how would you respond in one sentence? Because EVERYTHING is SOMEWHERE! Let that sink in. Knowing what “it” is and where “it” is, is SO VITAL to keeping society running – emergency services, logistics, asset management, infrastructure….everything comes back to what and where. It is inescapable. To me, GIS is like putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle – all the data and geometry fits together to make an image of what really exists in the world.


About the Author
Senior Research Geographer with the Association of American Geographers; Map Nerd