Spotlight is on our talent for World GIS Day

“Data & Maps” is our second most clicked-on link, behind DMV.

Oregon Scenic Byway sign for the McKenzie and Santiam Pass
Oregon Scenic Byway sign for the McKenzie and Santiam Pass.

Lots of people like maps. In fact, the “Data & Maps” tab on our website is the 2nd most clicked-on link, behind DMV! Why are maps (and the GIS work that makes them possible) so attractive? We asked our super-talented GIS Unit Section folks to tell us why they like the GIS field (FYI, the definition of  GIS – or geographic information systems – is a scientific framework for gathering, analyzing and visualizing geographic data to help us make better decisions). But they say it much better:

ODOT’s GIS team in 2020: Moriah Joy, Jennifer Lanzarotta, Brett Juul, Philip Smith, Becca Bourson, Kyle Marenger, Chad Nielsen, Chad Brady, Daniel Warren, Michael Hortsch, Chad Crockett, Shawn Snyder, Casey Ragain.
ODOT’s award-winning GIS team includes both GIS folks and IS folks (this photo is from 2020 and may include staff no longer with the unit). Pictured above are, from left: bottom row – Moriah Joy, Jennifer Lanzarotta, Brett Juul; second row – Philip Smith, Becca Bourson, Kyle Marenger; third row – Chad Nielsen, Chad Brady, Daniel Warren, Michael Hortsch; and back row – Chad Crockett, Shawn Snyder, Casey Ragain; not pictured: Sarah Cain.

Becca Bourson | GIS Analyst

 “Maps is good.” [Editor’s note: She clearly has a sense of humor.] “The ODOT GIS Unit provides opportunities to work on a diverse range of projects, which keeps things interesting. It also affords the opportunity to work closely on larger and longer-term projects, the Safe Routes to School program and the awesome staff being my favorite. It’s pretty fun when your technical skills help solve someone’s issue or provide information to their project.”

Chad Brady | GIS Project Coordinator

“I have had the opportunity to explore new technologies on how to solve complex spatial data analysis and data processing problems. I have been supported by the organization to develop my career path through ongoing training and programs in both the technical and leadership development paths. I think what I have enjoyed most of all is I have been part of a highly functional and effective group of folks that have been able to provide excellent GIS support to ODOT, other agencies and the general public.”

Sarah Cain | GIS Technician

“This is the fourth career I’ve had, and it has to be one of the most rewarding. GIS mapping can help people explore the spatial relationships and patterns in our world, and help us understand our place in it. Without the ability to create maps, measurements like distance, area, direction and geometric shape would remain meaningless numbers. Just like Winnie-the-Pooh’s Map of The Hundred Acre Wood, Bilbo’s Map of Wilderland, and Harry Potter’s Marauder’s Map, maps created by GIS professionals play a vital role in telling us where we are and where we’re headed. The maps we make help guide us through the story.”

Brett Juul | Manager, GIS Unit

“I have always enjoyed maps and cartography and since I was a Geography major in college I feel especially blessed that during the last 33 years I’ve had jobs that were in some way associated with mapping – whether it was early in my career when I was hand drafting maps and creating spatial data or later on when I was programming for automated map generation. Even as a manager, I’ve been involved in programs where GIS web applications, maps and geospatial data are the primary products.”

Jennifer Lanzarotta | GIS Analyst

“To me, each new GIS project is like a puzzle and the various spatial datasets we store and maintain are like hundreds of puzzle pieces that are ready to be used. My favorite part of GIS is problem-solving to determine which pieces are appropriate for my current puzzle, if there are missing pieces that need to be sought out or created, and how to fit those pieces together in order to create the map, design the tool, or produce the value that was requested.”

Kyle Marenger | GIS Analyst

“There are many things to enjoy about GIS and some of the more notable ones for me are the inter-disciplinary aspect of GIS work, the ability to map and model real-world assets, solve problems with spatial analysis, use modern technology and support diverse groups of people and their projects. I get to work on the big-picture concepts and investigate the pieces that make them up, all at the same time.”

Phil Smith | GIS Program Manager

“I was easily drawn into GIS as a field where I could pull together my long-standing interest in environmental science with mapping and technology. I continually enjoy many opportunities to help staff across many disciplines create a wide variety of products for their work at ODOT. It’s made for a good and fulfilling career; our team helps develop and leverage geographic data, applies geospatial analytical tools, and delivers map-focused solutions.”

Shawn Snyder | GIS Systems Analyst

“Having been in the GIS field for over 20 years, I am still fascinated by how many ways we can display GIS data and bring it to life. I have always felt that it tells a story, and users can get so much information from a map or application. I have been fortunate to work with GIS data in many ways and being able to develop tools that give users more options in working with GIS data is very satisfying.  GIS technology is ever-evolving and I look forward to what is in store for the future.”

Dan Warren | Senior GIS Analyst

“What I enjoy most about a career in GIS is helping people visualize their data. The ability to get data into a map is powerful and adds so much context. This tells a story in a way that a spreadsheet never will.”

New Scenic Byways story map puts you there!

Our GIS team recently worked with Region 1 Planner Sandra Hikari and several of our partners, including Travel Oregon, to create a gorgeous story map version of Oregon’s Scenic Byways. Take a look at this and you’ll get a better understanding of why this team loves their work!