From Crisis to Opportunity

Megan Olsen, Marketing & Communications

With his newly minted bachelor’s degree in geography, Timber Erickson walked straight into a full-time position after graduating from Weber State University in December 2020. He’d been offered the job months before, despite the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affecting the economy.

Erickson’s success wasn’t just a lucky break during a difficult time. Throughout his undergraduate years, he made incremental progress toward full-time employment. 

As part of his geography major, Erickson studied geospatial technology, a field that includes digital mapmaking, airborne and satellite imagery and global positioning and navigation systems (GPS), as well as the software used to analyze and interpret geospatial data, called geographic information systems (GIS).

“It was a perfect opportunity for me to get established in the geospatial field and gave me a really good skill set for my future position,” Erickson said.

After only a few courses in geospatial technology during his first year of college, Erickson landed a summer job as a part-time GIS specialist with his hometown of Evanston, Wyoming. He kept the job throughout his undergraduate years, making more money than he would in most student jobs. He continued to build on his geospatial technology skills at Weber State, graduating with an advanced certificate in geospatial analysis in addition to his bachelor’s degree.

The certificate Erickson earned is one of two offered by Weber State’s Northern Utah Geospatial Technology Education Program (NUGeoTec), which also offers an entry-level certificate. Either credential makes students hireable in the field after only two semesters of coursework.