Olivia Eaton began working at the Center for Geospatial Information Technology (CGIT) in June of  2015.  She graduated from University of Mary Washington in 2015 with a degree in historic preservation and a certificate in using GIS software.  A fortuitous elective choice of Introduction to Cartography sparked an interest in the field.  She has been involved with a variety of projects at CGIT, including the Virginia Broadband Planning and Analysis Toolbox, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Crash Geolocation, National Extension Web-mapping Tool (N.E.W.T.), the Virginia Veteran and Family Support project, and re-designing the CGIT website.  Olivia reflected that she has learned “Different ways of problem solving using Geography and GIS.”

Her work with broadband coverage involved conducting research to complete the policy database for the Broadband Planning and Analysis Toolbox to provide a comprehensive list of policies for each jurisdiction in Virginia, and creating static maps and reports for clients, including the governor’s office.  The DMV project has been an ongoing assignment for Olivia.  Her primary task there is geocoding crashes, and she will continue doing this on a consultant basis for CGIT after she leaves.  Research was the major focus of her work with N.E.W.T., specifically, confirming Co-op Extensions district boundaries for each state - creating the first ever national Extension district map.  Olivia also updated the CGIT website following the installation of a new content management system.

Olivia offers the following advice to  students in geography, suggesting a focus on: “More exploration of open source software and programming.  Programming is fast becoming necessary for the job.  A lot of it is mainly practice based.”  Her favorite part of working for CGIT was researching and learning about the diversity of CGIT’s projects, all of which combine geography and technology in unique ways.  Olivia felt that her co-workers were very supportive and helpful with explaining how to use different programs and developing creative ways of approaching problems.  She often received help from fellow employees when working with new software or beginning a project she had less familiarity with.

Students and new employees are welcomed into a positive learning environment at CGIT and are encouraged to learn and grow as analysts and programmers.  It’s not always all work at CGIT though.  Office parties with fun board games such as Munchkin and Carcassonne have created many great memories.  Olivia has been an essential member of the CGIT family and will be missed.  Her new job will be in Stafford County’s GIS department, where she will be geocoding, updating digital files, and assisting with field work.  CGIT wishes her all the best and looks forward to her continued involvement in the DMV project.