To get an inside glimpse at a potential career path, there’s nothing like walking in another’s shoes, or spending a day as their shadow. Earlier this month, local high school sophomore Miranda Johnson visited the Center for Geospatial Analytics to shadow a graduate student in the center’s professional master’s (MGIST) program, Paul Schrum, and to learn from him and others about their work firsthand. “I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Miranda says. “I was very happy with the experience.”
“Miranda is the daughter of some friends of mine here in Raleigh,” Paul says. “She had an assignment to shadow someone at their job for a day, to help get an idea of what the work world was like. She found out she couldn’t get credit for shadowing me because I am a student, but she still wanted to do it!”
As part of her visit, Miranda received an unofficial tour of the center’s Geovisualization Lab, where she learned about Tangible Landscape and other geospatial technologies at the center. She also sat in on two classes: GIS 540 – Geospatial Programming Fundamentals, taught by faculty fellow Laura Tateosian, and GIS 595 – UAS Mapping for 3D Modeling, co-taught by associate director of geovisualization Helena Mitasova and research associate Justyna Jeziorska. In the Unmanned Aerial Systems class, doctoral student Payam Tabrizian gave a guest lecture on using the open source 3D modeling software Blender. “The Python and Blender classes were intriguing and made me interested in trying out programming,” Miranda says.
Throughout the day, Miranda had the opportunity to chat with other graduate students and meet women role models in the field. MGIST student Chris Parker showed Miranda what he has been working on for his capstone project (photo above), and doctoral student Ashly Padgett (Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) shared her paleoclimate research with her. Miranda also met Dr. Mitasova and Jeziorska after attending their class, and she ate lunch with Dr. Tateosian and doctoral student Mallory Kinczyk (Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences), who is studying planetary geology, to learn about their research and how they decided on their careers. “I enjoyed meeting female professors, inspiring me to make my own path and never let anyone stop me,” Miranda says.
For the rest of the day, Miranda sat with Paul in the graduate student office as he worked; among other things, she helped him with some Python programming. “She gave me a really good idea that I was not thinking of,” he says. “It was good for Miranda to see how the math and science she is learning in high school is applied in intriguing and innovative tools at the university level and beyond. I am sure it will help her as she considers where to go to college and what career to pursue.”
Now in his final semester, Paul plans to continue his education after graduation in August by working for a Graduate Certificate in Math at NC State. Miranda, who loves both math and science, has plenty of time to still make up her mind about her future. “I am still not sure what I want to do as a career,” she says, “but I enjoyed looking at more possibilities.”