Orbica Internship

By Neal Johnston

Internships are an important stepping stone to start a career in the GIS industry. As graduates from the University of Canterbury, both Kurt and myself are very keen supporters in giving back to the University that educated us and put us both on the course to our current careers. We both believe that it was not only the education we received, but the opportunities given to us during our separate internships that have molded us into the GIS professionals that we are today.

With this in mind, recently at Orbica we have taken on a 4th year Geography/GIS student from the University of Canterbury, Will Jones. I am personally very excited about this as it is my first opportunity to help a fellow GIS enthusiast to learn and begin driving his career. I feel very honoured to be Will's mentor during his stay with us and I am particularly excited to see the end product as well! I asked Will to write up a few words to explain who he is and what he will be doing as it is a very interesting project using some very unique data.

Here is what Will had to say:

"I am a fourth year student at University of Canterbury studying a Postgraduate Diploma in GIS. As part of this course I have struck gold by landing an internship at Orbica. I am working there part-time for the next few months. The internship is a great opportunity as I am spending my time on a project presented by the Geospatial Research Institute and the History Department at UC. The project covers the migration of people with leprosy to a leper colony on a small Fijian island called Makogai during the 19th and 20th centuries. The migration is global in scale with people coming from all over the Pacific Islands, many workers from India, and even some Europeans and New Zealanders ended up there. The data set is unique due to its size, completeness and temporal coverage. The goal of the project is to unravel the complexities of where and when people moved in and out of this island and then present the findings in an intelligible, visually exciting format. The output will hopefully be used as an example of what can be done with geo-health data and inspire further projects of this scale.

The people at Orbica are very welcoming, helpful and I am being inspired by learning from such an obviously talented group. Being in this environment gives me an insight into diverse and complex GIS projects across New Zealand, which is an opportunity I am grateful for. I am looking forward to giving an update on my project as I move forward in the upcoming months, concluding with a spatial representation of this never seen before data."

I will be helping Will progress with this project and I have confidence that he will be producing something that is not only new and intriguing, but could answer historic geo-health questions that have been unanswered for over 100 years. I know many of us will be eagerly awaiting these results (and the cool visualisations that come with it), so Will will update us on his progress as he gets deeper in the data and the project!