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Coleman Shepard Heads to Washington D.C. After Earning His MGIS Degree

May 9, 2019

Coleman Shepard has been keeping very busy during his time in the MGIS program. His experience illustrates the multitude of opportunities available to hard-working, bright students who are motivated, focused and goal-oriented. He is one example of how you can make the most of your graduate school experience and achieve your career goals!

Coleman received his undergraduate degree in Geography with a concentration in GIS from the University of Minnesota and decided he still had a lot to learn. Many students would have been advised to go elsewhere for graduate school but he felt there was more to learn at the University with its wide-ranging programs and course offerings. With the program’s flexibility to reach across departments, Coleman was able to develop skill sets in computer science and business that complemented his GIS coursework.

He funded his education through a series of graduate assistantships including working as a teaching assistant in Eric Shook’s Principles of Geocomputing class, a research assistant for Eric Shook working on a National Science Foundation (NSF) project, and a research assistant at U-Spatial under the supervision of Len Kne helping researchers to implement GIS projects. In addition to these positions, Coleman secured a competitive Esri summer internship. In the summer of 2018, he worked on the Natural Resources team in the Professional Services unit at the Redlands headquarters where he applied his knowledge of GIS, computer science, project management and business services to his position. During his time at Esri, he was part of a plenary session presentation at the 2018 Esri User Conference given by a group from the UMN illustrating the idea of a spatial university. This gave him the rare opportunity to present in front of 16,000 conference attendees!

But there’s more -- Coleman has been an outstanding departmental and program citizen through his involvement in the GIS Student Organization and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), by developing resources on courses to take in related fields such as data science, information technology and computer science to share with other students, and by serving as a mentor to new students in the MGIS program. This illustrates his commitment to the GIS profession and dedication to helping others.

Coleman will graduate in May 2019 and is heading to Washington D.C. to work at the U.S. Department of Transportation as a Safety Data Fellow. In this position, he will help shape the safety and data agendas for policy initiatives including the space of autonomous vehicles.