Staff Spotlight

Ryan Cook, Cartographer

How and why did you pursue this career path?
As a young child, I have early memories of completing a wood block Unites States puzzle over and over until I memorized all the states. I also remember following AAA triptiks along highway routes to know my location during family vacations. That interest carried through to my high school years, when I received an award in my Geography class. I always had a natural interest in maps and places.

What was your most memorable project over the years?
The project for which I was hired at the beginning of my career was my most memorable. Planimetry, topography and orthophophotos were completed for all of Cuyahoga County in the mid-90s. I learned valuable technical and communicative skills through collaboration. I had such a sense of accomplishment after completing the complex project.

What do you like most about your job?
Seeing a project go through different phases, from concept to deliverable, with contributions from a variety of individuals, feels like a winning team effort. Individually, I enjoy viewing, in high resolution 3D, various terrain feature types from different areas of the country because it feels like I’m traveling without leaving my desk. I also gain satisfaction from the creative aspect of my work, including adding personal detail to make each map uniquely mine.

What do people think you do when you tell them you work in geospatial services?
Most people are not familiar with the term. They usually think it’s something having to do with the environment or geology. I tell them we gather data for a specific location using aerial photography and then accurately reference that data to be used for planning and design. I explain that there’s geospatial information all around them.

What would you have done for a profession had you not pursued this career?
That’s a tough one! FBI, physical education teacher or archeologist, most likely.

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