Propel: Geographic Information System (GIS) - Fall 2020



Students who participate in this 5-week project-based learning program will learn the basics of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills, explore career paths, gain experience with a real-world project, and build connections with UVA alumni and employers.

What is GIS?  

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a framework to help organize, manage, and analyze data. More specifically, GIS is useful for relating, integrating, and analyzing information from the different layers of spatial information to address complex problems and to make smart decisions. Anything that can be placed on a map is a candidate for utilizing GIS! GIS has broad applications and can be found in use in the following fields: Urban Planning, Transportation, Oil & Gas, Healthcare, Government, Non-profit, Sustainability, and many more. Common uses of GIS include inventory and management of resources, crime mapping, establishing and monitoring routes, managing networks, monitoring and managing vehicles, locating and targeting customers, addressing public health concerns, mapping wildfire risk, modeling hazmat risk, and mitigating invasive species, and this is only the start!  Learn more about GIS and GIS careers.


You will join a cohort of 25 fellow UVA students to attend a series of 2-hour GIS skills classes every Friday, September 25th - October 23rd. For the first two weeks, you will learn the basics of GIS and get to know your classmates. Mid-way through the program, you will receive a real-world client challenge and work with a 5-student team to solve the challenge. Each team will be assigned an alumni project coach for guidance and feedback. The program culminates in a capstone presentation on Friday, October 30th when you will present your team's insights and recommendations to the client and receive presentation feedback from judges.  Learn more about the mandatory program dates on Handshake


  • Learn the basics of GIS skills
  • Explore related career paths
  • Gain experience with a real-world project
  • Build connections with UVA alumni and employers
  • Increase self-awareness and clarify career interests

Meet Your GIS Instructors

Chris Gist, Erich Purpur, and Drew Macqueen from the UVA Library will be your instructors for the GIS Skills Class! Chris is a GIS Specialist and certified GIS professional (GISP) who builds spatial data collections and teaches GIS courses.  His research includes various funding analysis, environmental science, and humanities GIS projects. Erich is a Science & Engineering Librarian with experience in Free and Open Source (FOSS) and proprietary GIS tools including QGIS, ArcGIS suite of applications, python, Relational Databases (PosgreSQL), and web-based data sharing platforms. Erich teaches a “GIS for Public Policy” course for the Frank Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy department.  Drew Macqueen is a Geospatial Consultant who supports faculty, staff, and students with GIS data and software.  You can learn more about the UVA Library’s GIS resources here.


All majors, class years, and experience levels welcome!  Students simply need to register via Handshake to participate in the program. Space is limited. 


Please Note: Students must have a reliable internet connection that will allow access to websites inside the U.S. for the duration of the program dates to be eligible to participate.


This is a free program that is available to all degree-seeking UVA students. 


If you can no longer participate in this program, you must withdraw your RSVP before the registration close date of Sunday, September 20th at 11:59 pm, and email Laura DelPrato ( Please note that if you do not complete your commitment or no show for this program, you will not be able to participate in future Career Accelerator programs this semester.

More to Explore

Connect with alumni for insights about the process of choosing and starting a career in their specific field. 

Virtual Drop-In Hours: Thursdays, 12-2pm 

One-on-One Counseling: Select "Science & Sustainability" from the Handshake appointment...

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