Geospatial technologies help pinpoint student focus

Student Spotlight
Minh Quang Vo, information technology master’s student

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Minh Quang Vo, left, an information technology master’s student, stands with his Esri co-op supervisor at the Esri International User Conference in San Diego, the world’s largest event dedicated to geographic information system technology.

Minh Quang Vo, an information technology master’s student, wanted to find a job in geospatial technology, a field that uses geographic information systems, or GIS, to measure, represent and analyze data and the earth. When he found a co-op that allowed him to actually use GIS to analyze the availability and locations of GIS-related jobs in the U.S., he knew he was in the right place.

Question: Where are you from?
Answer: I am from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Q: What brought you to RIT?
A: I came to RIT in 2006 to study international hospitality and service management, but I switched to management information systems when I became interested in studying programming.

Q: What types of things are you involved in around campus?
A: I used to be vice president of the Badminton Club. Now I spend most of my time in Golisano Hall working on my capstone project and tutoring students. When I have free time, I like to play racquetball at the gym.

Q: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
A: I have been living by myself as an international student since I was 15 years old. I am proud of being able to overcome language and cultural barriers to pursue my studies and co-ops.

Q: What kind of co-ops have you had?
A: I have worked as an operations manager with RIT’s Information and Technology Services and with Esri in Redlands, Calif. An Esri group that came to visit RIT last spring recruited me.

Q: For those that haven’t heard of Esri, what do they do?
A: Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) is a software developer company that focuses on geographic information system applications and geo-databases. The company is a leading player in the GIS field, offering a complete system that allow users to store, retrieve, manage, analyze and display spatial data.

Q: What exactly did you do with Esri?
A: I worked with the education team to develop a map-based model of the GIS employment landscape in the U.S. I worked with industry experts to gather information and used Esri’s own ArcGIS mapping system to create the model. For this model I was actually able to use information that I had gathered for a GIS class at RIT.

Q: How is GIS helpful?
A: Most people use GIS every day without even being aware of it. Every time you go to Google Maps for directions, use the GPS on your phone or even check-in somewhere using Facebook, you are using GIS.

Q: How did you get so interested in GIS?
A: I am all about data—that’s why I chose database design and development as my concentration. GIS deals with lots of data while adding a spatial and temporal element to it.

Q: What do you plan on doing in the future?
A: Currently, I am finishing my capstone project on building a Web application to visualize Vietnam’s statistical data. After graduation this spring, I plan to work as a database administrator, possibly in the GIS field.

Q: Do you have any advice for other RIT students?
A: Information technology students looking for something new should check out GIS because it incorporates a strong background in Web, programming and database with geography. The Esri recruiters will be back at RIT in February, too.

Compiled by Scott Bureau.

Matt Gregory compiles “Student Spotlights” for University News. Contact him at with suggestions.