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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Google Maps on steroids’: Former student keynotes GIS day

Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION
GIS keynote speaker Clint Brown, Class of 1978,  speaks to students and faculty Tuesday afternoon at the MSC. 
Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION GIS keynote speaker Clint Brown, Class of 1978,  speaks to students and faculty Tuesday afternoon at the MSC. 

Geographic Information Systems can digitally track packages, find out the moisture of soil before oil drilling and track digital devices across huge distances.
GIS Day keynote speaker Clint Brown, director of product engineering at Esri and Class of 1978, spoke Tuesday about the opportunities GIS holds for the future. Brown spoke as part of a three-day conference this week offering short classes and lectures.
Dan Goldberg, geography professor and event organizer, said GIS is the science of taking data that has a geographic component and is all about solving problems by putting information on maps.
Eric Maurer, spatial sciences senior, said GIS is everywhere within modern society.
“It is Google Maps on steroids,” Maurer said. “It’s what runs your iPhone, your smartphone, it’s how everybody is doing anything nowadays. Amazon, Olivium, UPS, all your big Fortune 500 companies — I guarantee you have a GIS department within their company. I would say it’s the future.”
Goldberg said many people are already using GIS without realizing it.
“So anytime they get in the car and they turn on their GPS and get directions they are using GIS, anytime they search on Google maps, they are using GIS,” Goldberg said. “They are already GIS users, they just don’t know that they are.”
Brown said Texas A&M is already preparing students to meet the expanding GIS demand.
“I am incredibly impressed,” Brown said. “I have not been back here since 1979, for whatever reason. It’s been very touching and very exciting for me to come back. I haven’t seen a GIS program with as much energy as I’ve seen here. It’s really very interesting.”
Brown said his master’s degree in statistics at A&M is to thank for the way he approaches problems today.
“This statistics program was incredibly intense,” Brown said. “It was the first time where I was in a position where I could focus on going to school, and I learned a lot about what it takes. I got an incredibly strong foundation for thinking about problems in an applied way.”
Brown said he left A&M with a strong technology-oriented mindset and wanted to see how technology could be used to help make better decisions.
“And so I left here with an ethic and a goal in mind,” Brown said. “I came from here and it came a lot from the community at A&M, there is nothing like it. It’s not like any other academic program or community.”
Brown said being back at A&M for the conference has been exciting for him.
“In many ways it’s the same — the spirit is the same, the community, and I mean that in a broader sense than the school spirit, it’s actually pretty alive, positive community or really smart people,” Brown said.
Brown said GIS is important for the future.
“I think we need GIS to create a better world, for you guys to create a better world,” Brown said. “My generation hasn’t done what it needed to, but you guys are going to fix problems. I think GIS is going to be really important for the future.”

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