I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

EAST Initiative staff with Esri SAG award.

EAST Initiative staff with Esri SAG award.

Last week, Jerry Prince shared his excitement about the 2010 ESRI User Conference. This conference is the largest gathering of GIS professionals in the world and, as you read, includes numerous opportunities to witness innovation and new uses of GIS, while networking with others in the GIS field. This year’s conference featured a watershed moment for EAST — and meant that Jerry had to put up with me in San Diego for a few days.

This year EAST— along with about 150 other organizations around the world — received a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award, or as ESRI President and founder, Jack Dangermond termed it, “the Academy Award of GIS”. According to ESRI, this award is given to less than one-tenth of one percent of all GIS-using organizations, and I’ll be doggoned if EAST didn’t merit one! We were, understandably, humbled and button-busting proud, all at the same time.

Matt Dozier, EAST, Charlie Fitzpatrick and Jack Dangermond of ESRI and Jerry Prince, EAST.

Matt Dozier, CEO & President of the EAST Initiative, Charlie Fitzpatrick and Jack Dangermond of ESRI, Jerry Prince, EAST Senior Director of Program Services.

The upshot of all this was that Jerry and I were guests at a special reception for SAG award recipients during the conference. The ceremony itself was grand and inspiring. Jack Dangermond talked about the work being done by the award winners, putting it into the context of his larger goal: providing everyone, everywhere with a better tool to explore, understand and make decisions about their world. We had a photo-op with Mr. Dangermond, and on behalf of the whole EAST world, I thanked him for the support he has given to EAST schools and students. Then we had an opportunity to network with the other attendees.

Roger Tomlinson and Matt Dozier of the EAST Initiative.

Matt Dozier of the EAST Initiative (right) with Roger Tomlinson, the "father of GIS."

It was wonderful to spend time with ESRI managers and full-time EAST supporters Ed Crane and Charlie Fitzpatrick. But easily the highlight of the ceremony — and the highlight of my year so far — was the opportunity to meet and visit with Roger Tomlinson, the “father of GIS”. Mr. Tomlinson developed modern computer-based GIS in the 1960s and literally paved the way for everything that has come since. When I explained EAST and the work that EAST students are doing in communities across America, he smiled and declared us to be one of the good guys. It was indeed an inspiring evening!

The EAST Initiative received this recognition not only because of the work we do to provide access to transformative tools such as GIS to our students — but also because EAST students are actually using this tool in real-world projects. EAST students have served their schools and communities by mapping school evacuation and bus routes, fire hydrant locations, and emergency helicopter landing sites, as well as for documenting and researching environmental issues such as bat white noise syndrome, flood hazard and storm drain marking. These are only a few of the useful, meaningful and important community projects our students have completed with GIS.

EAST is successful because EAST facilitators and students actually do the things that others just talk about. And now we’ve received additional recognition for it.

Until next time…


To learn more about the SAG award and read briefs on all the award winners, visit http://www.esri.com/sag/

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2 Responses to I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

  1. Malcolm Williamson says:

    I do hope you had Mr. Tomlinson sign a copy of his book, “Thinking About GIS”! No GIS manager should be without a copy.

    Congratulations for the award – I would venture to guess that EAST has introduced more students to GIS than any other program in the country!

  2. Matt says:


    Thank you for the kind words; we all know that CAST shares much of the credit for EAST’s success with GIS.

    I was not properly prepared to meet Mr. Tomlinson, but took advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself. It was the highlight of my year so far!


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