Four Upper Canada College students impressed more than 1,000 attendees of Esri Canada’s Toronto user conference on Oct. 5 when they presented an innovative project from last year’s geography class as part of the keynote address.
Conrad Mahony, Carson Lau, Sammy Fleisher and Matt Bradley modeled the UCC campus using Esri’s desktop geographic information systems (GIS) product ArcMap, the video game Minecraft and Open Data from the City of Toronto.
While the students conducted spatial analysis projects throughout the year, including finding people and infrastructure at risk from sea level rise and houses at risk from erosion at the Scarborough Bluffs, they moved real data into Minecraft to model the UCC campus. Geography teacher Mark Hoel believes this is unique in the world for students below university.
Hoel presented the boys’ work at an international Esri conference in San Diego this past summer and, when Esri Canada found out about it, the company invited them to make a presentation at its event. They also met Esri Canada founder and chief executive officer Alex Miller. Esri is the largest GIS vendor in the world, according to Hoel.
“It is a pretty big deal and the boys acquitted themselves admirably,” says Hoel. “There were a few jitters before we started, but they quickly evaporated and we even got a few laughs.”