My GIS Training

My background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) dates back to my first exposure to the technology at UBC, where I took a couple of years worth of credits in Geography. As soon as I saw GIS technology (in 1996), I decided I needed to know more about how it worked. I soon discovered the Advanced Diploma in GIS at BCIT and signed up for the program in the Winter 1997 term. I’ve been studying and using GI Systems ever since– and still find them fascinating and technically challenging. There seems to be no end to the number of ways one can analyze and represent geographic data. It looks to me like one can explore the geography of just about anything by using a GIS.

Much of my GIS training was on ESRI products, but I’ve also taken courses in AutoCAD, MapGuide, MapInfo, MicroStation and QGIS.

I’ve always found Open Source GIS to be more interesting than proprietary platforms. My final project at BCIT used MapServer on Linux and I’m happy to see that the software is still going strong and is now overseen by an OSGeo Technical Steering committee.

Vancouver GIS Users Group

I’ve been attending the meetings of the Vancouver GIS Users Group since my days as a BCIT student. I have also been a member of the group’s Steering Committee for many years. We’re always looking for presenters who are able to regale us with tales of their GIS adventures, so please contact me if or another committee member if you have a project/presentation you’d like to share with our members.


I also enjoy attending GoGeomatics Vancouver meetings, which are usually announced on Meetup. A wide variety of people interested in Geomatics show up, ranging from young students to seasoned professionals.

My GIS Teaching

I’m proud to announce that my GIS buddy, Jim O’Leary (of Tech Earth Services and The City of Vancouver) and I are teaching a GIS certificate program courses at Langara College. This continuing studies program, currently consisting of five courses, starts on January 16th, 2016. Since October of 2015 we’ve been writing a column together for GoGeomatics. Our first article can be seen here.


Although I was trained in manual drafting techniques in engineering school, I wasn’t overly thrilled with pencils, erasers, and vellum. Being a lefty, I was constantly dragging my hand across my lettering and smudging it, resulting in lower quality output than I like to produce.

Drafting became much more interesting when I took courses in AutoCAD and MicroStation at BCIT. Drafting itself can still be a chore, but what is great about CADD is the opportunities for customizing workflows and working with the software programmatically. I currently work with MicroStation and enjoy creating cells, VBA macros, and Key In scripts that increase productivity and allow me the opportunity to get into the nuts and bolts of the way the software works.

Bentley’s MicroStation is the primary design tool I used in my job as a Telecommunications Engineering Technologist  at both TELUS and  Quanta Telecom Canada.

This is an extremely powerful software tool and I am constantly learning more about how it works. One of the thingsI like best is how custom configuration and software tools can be used to customize workflows and increase drawing/design productivity.

I’ve also taken numerous courses on Autocad, and have also used it professionally. In my opinion it is technically inferior to MicroStation and is definitely my second choice in CADD software. It is still very capable software, but I find myself less productive when using it.