Commissioned out of the Colorado School of Mines into the Army Corps of Engineers just after the end of the first Gulf War, I found myself at the Defense Mapping Institute (Later to become NGA) learning GIS and Remote Sensing and then on to an initial tour making maps with a Topographic Engineering Company in Fort Bragg, NC. I had planned to develop my career as an environmental engineer, and when I got off active duty (the first time) I negotiated my way into a Master’s Degree program at NC State monitoring groundwater on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Tough gig. After graduation I found myself working on hazardous and nuclear waste site projects. A far cry from the beach. But I always found myself coming back to mapping as a true passion. As a kid out hiking, my Dad taught me to read topo maps and at one point as a young geologist on a year-long break from college I found myself with a donkey and a small crew high up in the Andes with nothing but a map, a compass, a pick axe and a pan. And a well worn Spanish-English dictionary we would pass back and forth.
After a few years working as an Environmental Engineer in the private sector, I spent several years working as both a GIS Analyst and a Public Health Engineer in the public sector at the County level for the Planning Department, the Public Works Department, and later the Health Department. I gained a lot of GIS experience supporting various City, Town and County programs. That really helped me gain an appreciation for both the possibilities and challenges that exist when applying geospatial technology to help enhance public planning and improve environmental management programs.
After initially leaving the Army, I stayed in the Army Reserve as part of a small Special Operations Unit, and woke up one morning shortly after Valentine’s Day in 2002 on a frozen pallet in Afghanistan and spent the better part of the next near negotiating public works projects with former Taliban, insurgents, and local leaders. But that’s a story for another day.
In 2003, after returning from Afghanistan, I joined forces with a not-for-profit organization being run as an innovative geospatial technology start-up. With seed money from NASA and several additional key projects with New York State in Statewide Floodplain Mapping and New York City Watershed Protection Programs, we were able to develop a number of unique and innovative projects aimed at supporting local government land use planning and water quality protection. It was during this time I learned the power of LiDAR technology, which now forms the core of our business activities at GroundPoint.
Coming out of a start-up culture that was going in a million different directions at once, forming GroundPoint gave us the ability to focus. And I think that has made all the difference in the world. Since 2009 we’ve been fortunate enough to work on a great many projects and for a range of both government and commercial clients. And as we move into an era where high resolution geospatial data is becoming ubiquitous, our client’s challenges are become less about getting more data and more about using it effectively. The challenges will continue to pile up, but so will new and innovative applications to help solve real world problems. It’s an exciting time and we are excited to be a part of it.