GIS

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Find out what some of our MSc GIS alumni have to say about their time at Ulster and what they are doing now.

Marcos Moreu

The first time I used a GIS was while collaborating, during my last year of a BSc in Mechanical Engineering in Spain, with an NGO in El Salvador in WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) related projects. After that experience I decided to improve my skills in GIS and the MSc offered by Ulster University was the best option I found in the UK for studying online and part-time while working in the hospitality sector. I completed the PgDip between 2013 and 2015, and the MSc in 2018. It’s been an extremely valuable learning experience of which I would like to highlight and thank for the flexibility and support provided. Completing the PgDip at UU gave me the opportunity to find a job as a GIS technician in a UK based Geospatial company and later on in an international organisation working on Disaster Management related projects in East Africa. Completing the MSc Project has been key to gain a scholarship for a PhD project in Geography.

Lee Powell

As I had already been working in the GIS sector for 10 years when starting the course, I believed that the MSc in GIS at Ulster would have very little to teach me. I was wrong. Despite having already acquired some of the software knowledge (particularly of tool functionality) throughout my ten-year career I was astounded at how much the course had to offer. I learned an enormous amount about the application of GIS and it’s benefits to engineering, agriculture, local and national government, retail, the environment, ecology, politics, business, health and social care… the list goes on! The MSc in GIS has taught me the value of geographic information systems in a real-world context and has ignited a passion for me in GIS that I didn’t have prior to starting the course. I started the course with very little academic experience (which was a worry to me) but with the help and guidance of the university staff I have produced academic work to Masters level that I am incredibly proud of. The course has been instrumental in me transitioning into my new role as a GIS consultant for a world leading GIS solutions company.

Lucy Arnold

I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences in 1989 and started a career in conservation and ecology working for a variety of environmental organisations and ecology based charities.  After moving to Ireland and setting up my own environmental consultancy, I decided I wanted to take a slightly different route and to further develop my GIS skills. I enrolled on the MSc GIS Distance Learning course at the University of Ulster so I could continue working whilst studying and completed it in 2016.  I continue to work in the ecological sphere, now as Head of GIS and Data Management for Nevis Environmental; an environmental consultancy based in Scotland with ecological expertise in both land-based and marine projects.   My main role is to progress the business forward strategically regarding GIS and data management.  This means that I am involved in the innovation, research and development side of things; finding solutions and looking at ways to commercialise them for our business.

The flexibility of the distance learning really worked for me; I could fit my studies around when I needed to work.  I never felt as though I was missing out not being on campus, I had access to a vast library of information, and the discussion forum helped me stay in contact with other people.

Kate O’Loan

After completing a degree in Geography I enrolled for the full time on campus GIS MSc at University of Ulster Coleraine in 2006/07. I was able to secure a job before graduation at a data management company within the land registry of Northern Ireland, I worked there for a short period of time before moving to Glasgow to work for Jacobs, a large engineering consultancy.   I worked full time on a large asset management project and was involved in all aspects of the project from GIS tasks to program management and on-site training in India.  After 18 months at Jacobs I moved to Sydney and having some experience as well as a Masters Qualification I found it relatively easy to get a GIS role. I worked at a small company specialising in property and location data for 18 months.   I have worked at SKM/Jacobs in Sydney now for nearly 5 years on a wide range of projects. This summer my employer is sponsoring me to do a 6 week course at the University of Twente in the Netherlands in Disaster Risk management and Environmental Assessment for Spatial Planning – contemporary  issues and something I am really interested in.

Paul Fearon

I graduated with a BSc (Hons) Geography (2008) and an MSc in GIS (2009) from the University of Ulster. I now work for AECOM in New Zealand, where I am involved in all GIS aspects of a major Fortune 500 engineering consultancy firm operating on a global scale. I have been involved in hydro dams construction throughout the Asia-Pacific region, major transport and rail projects from electrification to a new subway, flood hazard modelling and mapping, aviation projects and mining projects in Australia to name but a few.

I thoroughly enjoyed my PG study in GIS. I learned much more about myself and what my strengths and weakness are than I ever could whilst studying as an undergraduate. The relationships you form with the lecturers are a great stepping stone to full time professional work as they get to know you and your abilities. I left Ulster in 2009 and now I am in New Zealand. I honestly don’t think I’d be here on a regular degree.

Paul Brennan

I undertook the GIS course at Ulster during 2009-10, and after graduating worked for Teck Resources in Wicklow in a GIS/Geologist industry research capacity. This was followed by a year working for the same company in the Yukon, working in the field (living in a camp!) as a GIS-Geologist. After this I worked for the ICON Group, contracted to the ROI Department of Agriculture, digitising and performing quality checks on field boundary data for EU single farm payments scheme, and am currently employed as an environmental scientist / GIS specialist with Mott MacDonald Ireland, working with the environmental section, doing spatial analysis, spatial data management and map production. Geology is an inherently spatial discipline, so strong GIS skills are a definite plus in that industry. GIS is such a multidisciplinary tool that it has allowed me to get jobs in Environmental Science, Agricultural Monitoring and with an engineering company.

Patricia Doran

I graduated from Ulster University with a 2:1 in Geography (2009) and a PgDip in GIS (2010). Following this I worked for Northern Ireland Water (NIW) as a GIS technician, using skills I had gained at university I applied them to different GIS software.  This provided the groundwork for my current position as a hydraulic modeller with civil engineering company, Mouchel, where I am responsible for the construction and calibration of hydraulic models based on NIW’s supply network across the whole of Northern Ireland.    Alongside this I am also completing an online course with World Bank Group on ‘Designing and implementing successful water utility reform’ and working towards chartership with the Institute of Water.

Kathryn McNair

I graduated with a first class honours degree in Geography in 2009 and then completed a masters with distinction in GIS in 2011.  Straight after the course I worked with Derry City Council for 6 months developing an online mapping viewer.  I then spent 8 months working in South West College on an environmental research project using GIS. Since then I have been working for LPS as a GI Consultant out posted to South Eastern Regional College.  Without having completed my MSc I would not have been shortlisted for my job in the council which ended up being invaluable experience and a kick-start to my career.

Andrew Boyd

I graduated from Ulster in 2010 with a BSc (2.1) in Marine Science. I subsequently went on to complete an MSc in GIS at Ulster, with some travelling in between. During my undergraduate degree I found a passion for sea floor mapping and surveying. I am currently employed as a trainee data processor with Fugro Survey in Aberdeen. Working in the marine surveying industry was a natural progression for me with great opportunities to travel, meet new people and spend a lot of time at sea!

Katie McFarland

I graduated in 2011 with first class honours in Geography, and continued my postgraduate studies at UU, completing an MSc in GIS. During my MSc I gained valuable work experience through a 6 week placement in Land and Property Services. I also became involved working on a Fuel Poverty project run by the University of Ulster in conjunction with the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). I switched to taking the MSc on a part time basis which allowed me time to work on this project and also complete my dissertation, which was related to the project. I have since worked on several different GIS projects in Northern Ireland Water and Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Since June 2013 I have been working as a GIS Consultant with ESRI Ireland.

Hadi Alsawad

Before taking the GIS Masters, which I completed in 2013 by Distance Learning, I was employed as a cartographer in the Advisory Unit of Land Affairs Department, Saudi Aramco (Saudi's national oil company). I was promoted immediately after the course to a senior GIS analyst position, and I am currently the acting supervisor of the Advisory Unit in Saudi Aramco. The flexibility of the course allowed me not only to keep my job, but also to become a senior GIS analyst in my unit. Subsequently, top management nominated me for a scholarship to do a part-time MBA from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Natalie Cozzolino

Before the GIS PGDip I had tried to find a job in the environmental sector using my BSc Geography and also an MSc Ecotourism, but was unsuccessful, and it was at this point that I decided I needed to develop a specialised focus. I decided to concentrate on GIS. I don’t come from an IT background, but I didn’t find that it held me back at all. After graduating from the GIS PGDip I decided to continue to the MSc and wrote a thesis looking at the use of GIS in modelling woodland expansion. Whilst undertaking this project I began to look for jobs and was overwhelmed by how easily I was getting interview invitations. I was successfully appointed as a GIS Analyst at SSE renewables.

Hannah Orr

I graduated from the Ulster University in 2012 with a 2:1 BSc (Hons) Geography. I then took a 3 month role as a Mapping and Charting Officer with Land and Property Services (LPS) before completing an MSc in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at Ulster. After completing my MSc I returned to LPS as a Mapping and Charting Officer. I subsequently worked for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service as an Information Analyst which involved performance analysis and use of GIS to assist in performance monitoring and decision making. I am now working with Gaelectric as a GIS Project Officer and predominantly work on Onshore Wind Farm Projects.

Finbar Gillen

I graduated in 2013 with a BSc degree in Environmental Planning from Queens University Belfast. I decided to take up GIS MSc course at UU, to enhance my employability as there seemed to be few opportunities in planning at the time. Despite having no experience in GIS previous to starting the course I found the introductory modules extremely beneficial and helpful. I graduated in the summer of 2014 with a post graduate diploma and took up a 10 week internship with GIS company, Compass Informatics in Dublin, working alongside the National Transportation Authority in assisting them with the development of the National Cycle Planner. After the 10 weeks were up, I took up a role with engineering firm Mouchel as a project support assistant on the A5 Western Transportation Corridor scheme which involved a lot of GIS work in relation to mapping and amending Vesting Order boundaries, and creating maps for engineers, land owners and Transport NI. I am now employed as a GIS Analyst for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.