As the local winner of the Esri Young Scholar Award, MARA University of Technology student Nur Fatma Fadilah Binti Yaacob was given an opportunity to present her work at the 2016 Esri User Conference in San Diego, California.

During the week, Fatma met Jack Dangermond, Esri’s founder and president, connected with other Young Scholars from around the world, and learned a host of new GIS skills – in addition to experiencing the best of what San Diego has to offer.

This is her story.

By Nur Fatma Fadilah Binti Yaacob

Thursday 23

My 23-hour journey from Kuala Lumpur to San Diego marked the first long-haul flight I’d ever been on, and my first trip to the US. I was excited to meet new people and take the opportunity to share ideas and knowledge.

Due to the time difference, my flight concluded the same day as it begun. I checked into the famous Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel before getting familiar with the local area.

Friday 24

With a free day before the Esri Education Conference, I took the opportunity to take in the beautiful scenery of downtown San Diego. Hopefully my friends back in Malaysia can also visit this stunning city one day.

I also noticed just how many people were arriving for the event. It made me even more excited to attend the conference!

Saturday 25

This was the first day of the Esri Education Conference, and it started impressively with plenary session ‘Creating a brighter future’. I was amazed by the speaker, who showed his creativity through a painting.

During the day I met Esri Young Scholars from Indonesia, Singapore and Korea, and attended many interesting workshops – learning new ways to create web maps using ArcGIS Online, and how imagery from satellites, aircraft and UAVs can be applied in ArcGIS software.

In the evening I met the rest of the Young Scholars from around the world at the Esri Education reception and expo. We shared our research ideas and GIS knowledge, and discussed new and exciting ways we could use geospatial technology to enhance global development.

Sunday 26

Another day of sunshine in San Diego; another day full of rewarding technical sessions. I learned more on how to solve environmental issues by utilising ArcGIS and applying the ‘GIS in community’ concept – a brilliant idea designed to help members of the community use the technology to lead, manage and develop in a responsible and efficient way.

I also attended the session ‘Creating a brighter future’. I was amazed with Dr Sarah Williams, who shared her experiences on how she introduced GIS as a way to address accident and traffic congestion issues in Nairobi, Kenya. I hope one day Malaysia also can implement GIS widely in the field of transport and services in order to solve traffic problems.

Monday 27

The main event had arrived – the Esri UC plenary. Esri founder and President Jack Dangermond took to the San Diego Convention Centre stage, and his enthusiasm and deep love for GIS was instantly impressive.

The entire plenary was very inspirational, but I’ll never forget one of Jack’s sentences – “earth observations enable a smarter world”. I now understand why so many spatial professionals from around the globe travel to the Esri UC.

Another important event today was the Map Gallery launch. I was very excited to see my project displayed, and took the opportunity to tell others about my research. It was a great evening.

Tuesday 28

Today, all the Esri Young Scholar Award recipients attended the Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award ceremony. Here we received our awards and had a group photo taken with Jack Dangermond. I also grabbed the chance to take an individual photo with him!

Wednesday 29

In the morning, I attended a GIS in banking workshop with Esri Indonesia team member Grace Adrienne. It’s a topic that’s caught my interest and one I’m eager to explore further in the future.

After that, I went to the UC Expo. Here, we were able to have face-to-face conversations with technical experts – the friendly Esri staff helping us understand the role GIS technology plays in prevalent world issues.  

Thursday 30

Capping off my Esri UC experience was the Party at Balboa – a brilliant night featuring delicious food, great music and a range of other performances. It was a real moment of delight for me as I able to have loads of fun with all the new friends I made during the week, and it was a suitable way to conclude my time in San Diego.

I would like to give special thanks to the Esri Malaysia team who looked after me during the week: Mr Lai Chee Siew, Chin Nan, Madam Joanne Loh, Madam Lo Wy Leng, and Adrienne Dobbie from Esri Australia. Thank you also to my supervisor, Madam Sr Sharifah Norashikin Binti Bohari, who supported me while I finished my research.

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