Sarah McLane Bryan, Geographic Information Education Specialist at UHMC, had the opportunity to interview International Underwater Explorations (IUE) founder Joe Breman to get a first hand look at what makes his work so interesting.
McLane Bryan: What are some of the cool projects you are working on right now?
Breman: One of the coolest projects we are working on right now is an innovative globe app that you can navigate through using gesture or voice control. Wave your hand in front of the monitor, make a fist, or point around the globe where you want to go, That’s using gesture control with a device called the Leap Motion Controller. We also got some considerable funding to develop voice control so you can say ‘zoom in,’ ‘zoom out’ ‘go right, up, down, North, or back’ and it does all those things. Or say “zip 96708” and it goes there. We are also testing this with kids on the autism spectrum as a new means to interact with, navigate, and explore data.
Do you partner with other local companies or agencies or do you work with companies or agencies on the mainland?
One of our first projects was with the windmills here on Maui through Shell Wind Energy, we also work with companies in the tech park, but our main business comes from federal contracting. It helps that we became a certified HUBZone business. That stands for historically underutilized business zone, and getting certified as one helped us to partner with other large companies because they get funding to allocate to small businesses like ours.
Do your employees get into the field – what is their typical day like?
Usually we sit in air-conditioned offices, working with dual-monitors, and comfortable desk chairs. We still have the occasional mandatory ocean meeting. Kayak, SUP and kiteboarding are fun pastimes and my favorite is getting in the water with the GoPro and being mugged by whales.
How have our students been utilized in your company?
It has been great to have the GIS program from UH as a resource to pool talented students interested in doing GIS and IT work. The skills needed range from detailed map and chart work, to programming and software development. So for anyone with a entry level skill set, and interest in these areas we can train and employ, on this career path.
Based on the skills of the students we are graduating from our certificate program, what are some ways we can improve our curriculum to better meet your company’s needs?
As we have branched out to help provide support to government agencies, the need to provide secure applications has become very important. To compete in this arena we have a top secret facility clearance and personnel, as well as a well-developed cyber-security lab. As UH expands its curriculum to include these areas, we will continue to be interested in collaboration.
What are some of the pros to hiring newly trained employees?
It’s nice to have newly trained employees as they bring a fresh perspective, the focus and work ethic has been strong, and overall they’re fun to be with. We have a culture that is built around family and fun, and we like the new energy that UH graduates have brought us. It’s also nice because if they have families on Maui, or are returning Kama’aina they stick around for the most part.
Do you think that you will be hiring more or fewer employees with the skill level that we can provide in the next 2-3 years?
I see our growth trajectory continuing and would be glad for that to lead to additional opportunities to hire more students from UH over the next few years.
What can the University do to help the GIS industry in other ways besides training students?
It would be great if the University could train GIS, and other students, to respond to requests for proposals (RFPs) and learn the process of grant writing, this would be a valuable skill to enter the job market with. Another good way to help GIS industry, would be to pair faculty leads with industry business development directors, to team on proposals for federal, state/local government, and national lab funding.
Looking for Quality Employees?
Our GIS Certificate program recently graduated 21 highly skilled entry-level GIS professionals from our program and many of them are looking for part-time, full-time and consultancy positions. We have Veterans, traditional students and more seasoned career professionals that have come back for more skills, many of who have a variety of other areas of expertise besides GIS.
Contact Sarah Bryan (firstname.lastname@example.org), the GIS Educational Specialist, if you have any placement needs and she can help get you connected to motivated, dependable workers who are eager to use their new skills.