Eliza Gutierrez-Dewar

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Growing up, I was surrounded by art and technology. Throughout my time in school, my focus was divided between technical skills and creative activities. Going into college, I felt I had to choose which of my seemingly polarized interests I wanted to pursue, not realizing there might be a way to combine them all.

I decided to come to USC to study theatre, but as I went through my first year, I found myself missing the technical aspects of the science and math courses I took in high school. I found the solution to my confusion through two GE courses.

My freshman year, I took “The Water Planet” and “Sustainability: Science in the City.” I found the use of applied spatial technology to be inspiring, much more compelling than my previous exposure to the tech industry. As I learned more about the Spatial Sciences Institute and the GeoDesign major, I was immediately taken by the core objectives of the program: to use spatial information to make more effective decisions for both design and urban planning. I declared my B.S. in GeoDesign in the spring of my freshman year, and with each semester I become more excited by the program.

I decided to immerse myself in the opportunities that surrounded me. My sophomore year, I worked on the research project “3D Visualization of the University Park Campus.” As a student researcher, I worked hard to learn more about data management, data collection, and the use of Esri GIS products like ArcMap, CityEngine, and ArcGIS Pro. For the summer after my sophomore year, I worked as an intern with Esri, the leading company for GIS technology. These experiences helped me to refine my GIS knowledge, providing me the technical skills needed to tackle complex issues like urban sustainability and thoughtful design. I hope to continue to participate in research positions and internships that show me the power and applications of spatial thinking.

My time as a GeoDesign student has shown me creativity and artistry is necessary for technical skills to be fully utilized. As I move forward in the program, I will continue to find my own balance between technology and artistic vision, while retaining the values of sustainability which served as my introduction into this field. The intimacy of the program and passion from the faculty make the Spatial Sciences Institute an exciting place to be. It is truly unique to be a program where you can develop relationships with your peers and faculty that are genuine and collaborative. I am excited to see how the program will grow as more students discover it as I did.

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