Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Student Spotlight: Sam Margolis


     At a liberal arts college, it is encouraged that students think outside the box, take risks, and dive into new areas of interest. It is easy to become involved in clubs and courses that you would not normally consider, in fact, it is the college’s strength. Junior Sam Margolis did just this.
     “Freshman year of college I randomly decided to take the Intro to GIS Course, not entirely sure of what it was about. The first few weeks I honestly considered dropping out, thinking that it was not for me. Luckily I stuck with it and within a semester I had a job in the GIS lab doing crime mapping and analysis.”
      Crime Mapping is one of the largest projects undertaken in the GIS Lab. This tool helps law enforcement to allocate patrol and specialized expertise in communities. Both the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the GIS Program work under the sponsorship of Governor O’Malley’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, maximizing the use of crime mapping throughout the state of Maryland.

     This past summer Margolis worked directly with the Montgomery County Police Traffic Division utilizing his impeccable skills in GIS Crime Mapping Analysis learned in WC’s program. As a Sociology major and Justice, Law, and Society Minor, crime mapping analysis is a golden key that will open doors for Margolis in his career field.
     “Working directly with the Police traffic division, it was clear to me just how helpful GIS is for law enforcement. Showing the exact location of pedestrian and car accidents helps law enforcement pin point exactly which intersections need the most attention. Not to mention, this is just as helpful for other crime analysis such as burglaries, assaults, and murders.”
     Margolis also had the opportunity to attend a USGIF Technology Day in Reston, Virginia. Students in attendance were given the opportunity to explore the latest technologies and meet with over 60 USGIF Defense, Intelligence and Homeland Security Community member organizations. Countless presentations displaying the latest innovations, as well as hands-on SAR capabilities training and a briefing on professional GEOINT certification, were only a few of the beneficial programs given as part of this event.
     “I was able to meet dozens of employers who use GIS for a variety of different reasons, giving me plenty of ideas of where to look when I graduate from college,” said Margolis. “Overall, what I have gained from GIS is direction. I always knew that I wanted to have a career in law enforcement; I just didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. Without GIS I still probably wouldn’t know, and I would not have had the amazing opportunities given to me because of the skills I have learned from it.”
     It all goes to show that you cannot rely on what you have always done, or you will never do anything more than what you have already. GIS opens up doors of possibility in countless areas of study whose projects rely on the factor of “where.” This technology undoubtedly changes our day to day endeavors in ways we are unaware, Sam Margolis is now one more student who has joined with the powerful world of GIS Analysis.

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