Cole Anderson Uses the Power of Geospatial Technology to Improve Campus Accessibility

Cole Anderson, a person with short blond hair wearing glasses, seated in a wheelchair. In the background are tall grasses.

Based on his personal and research experience, Cole Anderson is committed to developing innovative geospatial approaches to improve accessibility for the disabled community. Coming to the MGIS program with a BS in geography from the University of Minnesota, Cole possessed a solid understanding of the fundamentals of geographic information science and geospatial tools. He used his graduate studies to deepen his knowledge and technical skills to discover and implement elegant solutions to challenging problems. After discovering a serious research gap, Cole’s most recent research project, Energy Mobile: GIS for Accessibility, involves using geospatial modeling and geocomputing techniques to create an application to assist disabled individuals with navigating the campus according to their needs. Visit Cole’s professional portfolio to learn more about this project and more! 

Cole enriched his master's coursework through additional experiences like research assistantships and professional service. He has been working with the Institute for Social Research & Data Innovations at the University since June 2019 in three different roles. His first position was as a diversity intern with the Minnesota Population Center developing Python scripts to download Census data for the National Historic GIS (NHGIS). He started as an undergraduate research assistant in IPUMS and then transitioned to a graduate research assistant where he created GIS files for country boundaries using Excel, Python,and R.  He also volunteered his time as an officer for the GIS Student Organization and supported efforts such as the popular GIS Career and Networking Fair. Cole was recognized as the UMN 2021 Minnesota GIS/LIS Student Scholar Award recipient in the undergraduate category. Most recently, Cole has been awarded the University of Minnesota’s 2022 Esri Innovation Program Student of the Year Award.

Cole completed his MGIS degree in May and looks forward to entering the GIS profession so he can help others to implement innovative solutions using geospatial knowledge and techniques. His career goals include working for a socially conscious company or nonprofit that aims to improve public well-being, especially inside the disability community. Cole would like to use his skills to improve public accessibility for people with a variety of disabilities and create equitable access to critical infrastructure across the socioeconomic spectrum. When not engaging in the GIS world, Cole spends his time advocating for disability rights, collecting LEGO scale models, and writing. He enjoys learning about history, different viewpoints, and technical concepts.

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