It is not often that all of the staff members at the Washington College GIS Program are able to attend a conference at the same time, but February 15th, the opportunity arose. ESRI hosted its Developer’s Summit in Washington D.C. and our staff was able to attend. In addition to the eight staff members who traveled to D.C., Parker Hornstein, a senior at Washington College and intern at the GIS Program, also had the chance to attend the summit.
“This was my second year attending the ESRI Dev DC Summit,” Sean Lynn, project manager, said. “I am always amazed at the current features and innovations that ESRI has to offer. One benefit of attending the Dev Summit is getting that one-on-one time with the developers to have high-level technical discussions and getting feedback on current projects that are still under development.”
Lynn, along with GIS Analyst Thomas Fish, is going to Palm Springs, Calif. this March to a second ESRI Developer Summit. The March event will be much larger, attended by several thousand developers, representing some of the top talent in the country. Lynn and Fish will be learning and working beside the very best minds in app and analysis development.
The Developer Summit in February was intended for the local developers in the Delmarva and D.C. area, along with GIS analysts who have an interest in keeping up with ESRI’s cutting edge technology. The D.C. Summit also provided a host of introductory workshops and seminars for creating webmaps, mobile apps, and machine learning, of which our staff greatly took advantage.
The goal was for our staff to cultivate a deeper understanding of GIS, take the opportunity to network with other professionals, and to learn about where the digital world is going so we can adapt our workforce to keep pace with it.
Luis Machado said, “The ESRI Developer’s Summit was a chance to be exposed to a host of tools that ESRI provides. We were left with an understanding of the push towards cloud environments, mobile capable maps, and the power of coding applications. We’ve been working on desktop level applications for a long time, and we had our eyes opened to new possibilities that we want to adapt around.”
This summit relied heavily on ESRI’s online content and ArcGIS Pro, a new format of the ArcMap software package that is the standard used and taught by the GIS Program. ArcGIS Pro puts a much higher focus on sharing, streamlining, and automating functionality than the current ArcMap software.
It was a great opportunity to allow one student intern who is interested in coding and development to attend the conference.
Hornstein said, “[It] was an outstanding experience, especially as a student. I was able to get some great information on everything from the new ArcGIS Pro to mobile mapping and even touched a bit on artificial intelligence. As a senior beginning a capstone project revolving around mobile development and mapping it was an invaluable experience.”
One of the main goals at the WC GIS Program is to provide experiential learning opportunities for the students and that includes attending professional conferences. Hornstein was selected for attendance because of his interest in the GIS Program and his support of the MHSO team with coding work. In addition, as a computer science major, Hornstein was an ideal candidate to attend and to help communicate to other students the value of professional conferences.
The staff members expressed how much they had taken away from the summit after it ended. At a debrief dinner, they had a lightning round at the table to let everyone explain as concisely as possible the top takeaways from the conference. Pages of notes, business cards, and ideas were discussed and reviewed with an interest as to how they should best incorporate the products into the Program and teach the student interns what they all had learned
“After the summit, I think we’re in a much better place to leverage some of the technology solutions to our current projects,” Machado said. “More importantly, I think having attended we’re committed to emphasizing this digital networking environment and its capabilities to our partners, our clients, and of course, our students. It’s our job to push them towards this resource so they can help us stay innovative and disruptive moving forward.”
The ESRI Developer’s summit proved to be a wonderful experience for the staff at the WC GIS Program and they are grateful for the opportunity to have a break from the day to day to sharpen their skills and learn new techniques that can be shared with our students.