What are students say: Matthew Jones
1. What is your background before graduate school?
Before I joined Keio University, I spent a year and a half as a research student at the University of Tokyo. My research focused on the use of computing within the discipline of archaeology. This included using three-dimensional models to help understand historic sites, for example building a 3d model of temple buildings in the village of Asuka in Nara, Japan. This included using GIS technologies to place the created models in their actual geographic location, at the correct scale and orientation. My study at the University of Tokyo built upon my previous academic experience completing a Master’s degree in Archaeological Computing at the University of Southampton, UK.
Before moving to Japan, I worked for a transport consultancy in London for two years as a transport engineer named AECOM. My role involved designing transport solutions to improve road provision for buses and cyclists. This required the use of CAD and GIS technologies in conjunction with appropriate guidance and regulations.
2. What are you doing now? How do you use what you learned at SFC and in the EI program?
I am currently working as a Technical Research Consultant at ESRI UK. ESRI is an industry-leading provider of GIS software and solutions. My work involves helping to develop custom solutions using ESRI’s ArcGIS platforms. For this purpose I make use of both their desktop software and web-based GIS technologies. I am also responsible for testing new features and briefing other parts of the business on beta and pre-release software to help ESRI UK prepare for their deployment to customers in the UK.
My time at SFC helped me prepare for this role by giving me practical experience using the ArcGIS platform. Furthermore, the experience I gained from SFC’s focus on hands-on learning and regular information transfer through presentations and reports are directly relevant to my role at ESRI UK.
3. What kind of experience did you have at graduate school? Was it meaningful?
I had a very positive experience at SFC. Professors and fellow students were always willing to help by giving advice and taking time to listen to my research plans and progress. In regards to the classes I took at SFC, I particularly enjoyed the practical classes including ‘Environmental Fieldwork’ and ‘Practice in Environmental Monitoring’. It was this kind of hands-on practical approach to learning that made me choose to study at SFC.
My time at SFC was very meaningful and, as a result of my time there, I decided to pursue a career in GIS. I think the skills I gained at Keio helped me effectively complete the application and interview stages of the job application process at ESRI UK and ultimately be offered a job.
4. What project did you do as a student? What did you learn from taking on the project?
For my research project I looked into the impact of climate change on Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. I made use of historic and projected climate model data to understand how climate change would impact environmental systems and climate in Japan. Of particular interest was how sea level was forecast to change in the coming decades in the vicinity of Itsukushima Shrine.
I learnt a lot from this project both technically from the use of GIS for the project and non-technically through an enhanced understanding of climate change. Undertaking a large study gave me experience in project management. It was also an opportunity to complete a study that involved liaising with a large number of stakeholders from the Itsukushima Shrine Organisation to specialists in climate modelling.
5. Did your interests and point of view change once you began studying under the EI program? If so, what caused them to change.
Before I started the EI program I knew very little about climate change and did not know where to look to find more information on the subject. This has changed from my time at Keio University. The EI course educated me on the complexities of climate change both scientifically and politically. It also gave me the tools I needed to further investigate the issue, which I was able to do through my study at Itsukushima Shrine. It was an opportunity for me to contribute something to climate change research and gave me the knowledge and confidence to educate others on the issue.
6. Anything else you would like to share? (advice for future students, or anything else is most welcome!)
I would recommend that new students to the EI Program approach it with an open mind. There are lots of different projects to get involved with and many Professors specialising in a diverse range of subjects. Don’t be afraid to talk to them and other students about their work and interests – they are always pleased to do so and, who knows, one conversation could help shape your entire research career at Keio!