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Reward for years of study

A Burdekin Shire Council employee is reaping the rewards for years of study in the relatively new engineering field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Burdekin Shire Geographical Information Systems coordinator Michelle Scott was awarded the prestigious University of Southern Queensland’s(USQ) John Trousdell Memorial Prize, which commemorates the life and service to the profession of John Trousdell, an eminent Darling Downs surveyor.

Ms Scott also received the USQ’s Faculty of Engineering and Surveying Dean’s Commendation for Outstanding Performance.

“I am very honoured to receive these awards,” she said. “This is still a developing field and it was a challenge that I willingly accepted.”

Ms Scott started her Bachelor of Spatial Science Technology degree at USQ in 2008 as a requirement of her employment. She said that the degree had provided her with a solid foundation in GIS knowledge, both supporting and complementing her role at the Burdekin Shire Council.

“I started in the records section of the Council’s Design Office and completed an Associate Degree of Civil Engineering through the University of Southern Queensland,” she said.

“I was in the Design office for 20 months before the opportunity came up to move into the GIS field and it was while I was there that I started thinking about taking up GIS studies professionally.

“GIS is still a developing field, but I see it as an off-shoot of engineering. It’s a challenge because it is such a varied field for mapping; we do two-dimensional mapping and 3D modelling … it involves a lot of new technology.

“As more departments in council realise how GIS can help in their sphere of work I think my role will become more challenging. If, say, our environment department wants to highlight illegal dumping grounds on a map, I get them to take a GPS device and mark the spots and then upload all the data onto a map so they can identify the area. Sometimes it’s easier to look at a picture than to read a description.”