Growing up, Garret Shields ’09 always had a fascination with maps and technology, which led him to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems at Appalachian State University. He now serves as the GIS production manager for Amec Foster Wheeler.
“As part of the Geospatial Solutions group, my job is to oversee all geospatial production services for our Durham location, providing GIS-based products and services to our array of clients,” Shields said. “Part of that role allows me the opportunity to work with various emerging technologies such as LiDAR, unmanned systems, computing technology, etc., researching to determine how they impact and improve our work and that of our clients.”
Shields said that after he took numerous geography classes and spent time in the labs at Appalachian, GIS seemed like a perfect fit for his interests. He said that the exercises and analyses that he performed in his undergraduate classes are practices that he uses almost every day in his professional career.
The Department of Geography and Planning also does a wonderful job preparing its students for life outside of the classroom by helping out with résumé building and job interviewing skills.
He said that that his professors were very open and supportive and that he maintains contact with several of them to this day.
What advice would you give to freshmen interested in seeking this degree?
“I would gladly encourage anyone thinking about pursuing a geography degree to do so. The field of geography offers people the chance to immerse themselves in both the physical, natural and cultural sciences and explore how they are all interconnected,” Shields said. “Geography is a field that anyone can enjoy by itself, but also pairs wonderfully with other studies as well and has great career opportunities after college.”