Charting the course to a career in maps

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How a SAIT degree helped one student find his way

Ever since he was a kid, Ronnie Samonte has been obsessed with maps.

But at university in the Philippines, he was steered into a program focused on nutrition and dietetics — a career he had zero interest in.

When he moved to Canada 10 years ago, he realized he had a choice: keep going down a path that brought him no joy or embrace his passion for geography and cartography.

SAIT gave him the opportunity to do the latter. Samonte graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Technology Geographic Information Systems in the spring.

“Before going to SAIT, I was intimidated,” he says. “I had the passion for maps but not the knowledge I needed. After graduating, I feel like I’m equipped for everything I need for any job in GIS.”

Starting this spring, that job is updating maps and databases for the county of Lac St. Anne, a municipal district just west of Edmonton. It’s work he says marries his interests and skills.

Samonte attributes his ability to secure a job right out of school to SAIT’s unique, industry-relevant programming and the seasoned instructors teaching hands-on skills in small classes.

“The way they teach at SAIT, it’s really practical. You know what you need. You know you’re going to use what you’re learning.”

He also recognized opportunities came outside of the classroom. Serving as president of the BGIS club, he was able to organize industry nights for students, which he and others used to network, ultimately translating those introductions into work in his field.

He adds, the second-year practicum was a major reason why he was able to launch a career right after graduation and pursue his dream in Lac St. Anne.

“I’m proud to be working for the government, especially in a small county, because you can be a part of the development process for this entire area,” he says. “And that’s because of SAIT.”

Admission into the Bachelor of Applied Technology Geographic Information Systems requires a two-year diploma or the successful completion of two years at a recognized post-secondary academic institution. SAIT also offers programs with direct pathways into the degree:

Map out your career — learn about the Bachelor of Applied Technology Geographic Information Systems and more degree programs at SAIT.

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SAIT is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Îyârhe Nakoda of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney.

We are situated in an area the Blackfoot tribes traditionally called Moh’kinsstis, where the Bow River meets the Elbow River. We now call it the city of Calgary, which is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.