A Passion for GIS

Former RGi Scholarship recipient Kevin Mercy discovered a profound interest for GIS capabilities as an undergraduate student at USC


Kevin Mercy’s original area of study was engineering, but he began to wonder what he could do with an engineering degree. He then stumbled upon GEOINT and geographic information science (GIS) when, in 2016, he got the opportunity to travel to Catalina Island as an undergraduate research assistant. During this trip, he used ArcMap and a Trimble GPS unit to record GPS locations of springs on Catalina Island, and performed extensive hydrological and terrain parameter analysis to contribute to the ongoing construction of a preliminary water balance model for Catalina Island.

Mercy continued on this GIS path during his undergraduate career. The following year he joined another project, again as an undergraduate research assistant. This time he used LiDAR data to assist in the identification and digital drawing of a previously unknown Mayan town, temples, palaces, and earthwork features on the archaeological site, El Zotz.

“This got me real fired up about GIS. I saw all the different ways that the technology could be used in all sorts of different studies,” Mercy said.After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in archaeology with minors in geospatial intelligence and computer programming, Mercy remained at USC in pursuit of furthering his education on GIS capabilities.

As a graduate student, he became a part of a team working to develop a process for fusing multisensor-derived point cloud data into a structure that preserves all data attributes; thereby enhancing analytical capacity of the underlying data.

“As a graduate research assistant, my contribution involved processing data collected from a drone and writing code to voxelize, store, and exploit the temporal stack of 3D data within a lightweight web-based system,” Mercy said.

Mercy recently received his Master of Science in GIS and technology. He is now a GIS analyst at the Aerospace Corporation, where he assisted in the development of an internal web service platform for aerospace imagery.

Featured Image: USC Campus | Photo Credit: USC

This year’s EdGEOcation Giving Fund at USGIF will directly support the 2021 USGIF Scholarship Program.

Your donation will contribute to:

  • Ten (10) $1,000 scholarships to high school students for a total of $10,000;
  • Twenty (20) $3,000 scholarships to undergraduate and graduate, and doctoral students for a total of $60,000.

To further the advancement of the geospatial tradecraft, USGIF is dedicated to assisting promising students studying GEOINT, geospatial sciences and related fields. The annual USGIF Scholarship Program recognizes the achievements of graduating high school seniors, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. USGIF has awarded $1.4 million in scholarships since launching the program in 2004.

To learn more about the EdGEOcation Giving Fund and how to donate, visit usgif.org/donate.


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