Student Spotlight: Rocio Valdes

Rocio Valdes is a rising senior and has worked at the GIS lab since 2013.

Rocio Valdes ('15)

Rocio Valdes (’15)

How did you get started working in the GIS lab?

I became interested in working in the GIS lab once I entered the Introduction to GIS with Professor Stewart Bruce my fall semester of my sophomore year. I came to the GIS lab after class to see what it looked like and how far it was from campus because I had a compact course schedule and did not want it to interfere with my classes. Stew gave me the grand tour and I immediately noticed that most of my classmates were already working for him that included Stephanie Ireland and Stephen McFall, Jeff Sullivan, and Sean Emerson along with other students on campus I’ve seen in other classes. I asked them how they liked it and everyone agreed that it was a great way to get a feel of the real world work force and that I would enjoy the friendly atmosphere. By this point I was intrigued but not sure how to ask for an internship because I had just began taking his class. That is until the end of the tour when Stew asked me if I would be interested in working for him.


What projects have you been involved with?

My sophomore year I worked on 2 projects along with other introductory projects. I began with my own project in the GIS Lab as a member of the GOCCP Crime team on “Sex Offender Routes in Montgomery County” for my “Introduction to GIS” course with Professor Stewart Bruce. This was done using ArcGIS to make an analytical map for the Montgomery County Police Department to help with missing persons in the area. The next semester I worked on a project with the Fire Department in Chestertown, MD to map all of the fire hydrants in Chestertown along with Kent County for my “Intermediate GIS” course with Professor Stewart Bruce. This included checking the water pressure valves and making buffer maps of how far they are from one another using a Trimble device (GPS equipment) to record the coordinates of the fire hydrants. This helped the Fire Department in Chestertown  have an updated mapping system to use in case of an emergency. In between I’ve helped on projects digitizing sidewalks and correcting domestic violence addresses.

Can you tell me more about your current project?

Currently I am working with a new member to the team that joined the WC GIS lab family last June, Robert Oesterling, the GIS Analyst II with his Maryland Highway Safety Office project to identify target areas for DUI enforcement through the use of GIS mapping on the (crime team). He has been working on this project for over a year along 7 other interns like myself and 3 staff members. We are still receiving data from our resources. Our goal is to support the Maryland Highway Safety Office with our data analysis to identify which road segments should be targeted for saturation patrols in order to reduce DUI incidents.

What are your summer plans?

For the upcoming summer as a rising Senior I plan on working closer to home in Washington, DC, as an Manager for the Departments of Parks and Recreation’s Aquatic facilities. I have not had a chance to work during the summer for the GIS lab but I may apply to next year after graduating from Washington College.