Jasper van Vliet studied Geo-Information Science and Soil, Water and Atmosphere. He graduated in 2006 and is now working for the Research Institute for Knowledge Systems, the RIKS. His field of work is GIS and he is busy with research, presentations and training.
During my thesis work I did research on spatial models. The case study model I used was the Environment Explorer, a model that’s constructed by RIKS bv. To get acquainted with the model a little more I visited them for a day and got to know some researchers at the company. Then when I was looking for an internship I contacted them again to arrange a place at memorial’s university of Newfoundland, a collaborating institute. So during my study I researched their models for almost a year, and got fascinated quite a bit, not only about land use modeling, but to the research of complex spatial systems in general. Therefore I contacted RIKS bv again not long before graduation to ask whether there was any possibility of joining them. Fortunately there was, so I am now employed here, and so far I am enjoying a lot!
I am still doing research, although most of my time is currently taken by preparing training exercises and reporting about models. After all, there are customers involved now. And second to that I am doing several different projects at once, as opposed to thesis work that focuses solely on one aspect. Still, I am benefiting much from my MGI background. First I am using knowledge about geo information systems every now and then, specifically about spatial models. Second, and more important, I have to give presentations, think critically and ask the proper (research) questions, all skills that were trained at least partly during MGI courses. The most important thing however was the department (Arnold Bregt) bringing me in contact with this company in the first place. The big difference is that I now get the benefits as well: they pay me for doing a very interesting job, and I even get the opportunity to travel every now and then to (foreign) customers or meetings.
For example, I am doing work for DesertWatch, a research program on desertification that we’re involved in. First of all I am writing some training material for future users, as well as calibrating one of the land use models covering the whole of Portugal. In the meanwhile I contribute to the model by suggesting possible improvements, both general and DesertWatch-specific. And finally we have to contact other collaborators every now and then. Therefore I will attend the next annual meeting in Tunisia for about a week next March!