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  • Writer's pictureRyan Mello

ESRGC Intern Spotlight Winter 2018-2019


Name: Suzanne McArdle

Graduation date: 2006

Hometown: Beltsville, MD

When did you first use GIS? Dr. Chen first talked me into becoming a Geography major after taking her Geology course. I believe I first used GIS in GEOG 318 Local Field Course then taught by Professor Harris and Dr. Folkoff (Spring 2004) and was SOLD on GIS being involved in my career. I was in awe of the power in it.

What is something you wish everyone knew about GIS? I wish everyone had GIS in their elementary, middle, and high school curriculum. Place is powerful and the power of place can add so much to the investigation or resolution of many problems!

What interested you in working with the ESRGC? I was excited to get additional hands-on GIS experience outside of the classroom, the people that were involved in it were people I wanted to work with, and I knew it'd be a good resume builder. I didn't realize how amazing of an experience it was actually going to be. It was a win-win-win-win-etc situation.

What project(s) did you worked on as an intern? How long were you an intern? I believe I worked two school semesters as well as the over the summer as an intern with the ESRGC but it could have very well been longer. It wasn't long enough, though-- I didn't want to leave SU when the time came! I was able to support work at NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility for six months developing a spatial database that improved their facilities management as well as developing a spatial database for their telecommunications systems onsite. Over the summer, I worked in the field in Denton, MD equipped with a GPS and external satellite on my back with an ArcPad-enabled device in hand to map all of the features in the water and sewer network there. Fellow SU geography grad Catherine Fagnano was right by my side for all three projects. I still remember blaring The Fray's debut album on our daily drives to Wallops and Denton =D

Where are you working now? And what are you working on? Since June 2008, I've been employed in the Cartographic Products & Services Branch within the Geography Division at the U.S. Census Bureau. For close to the last three years, I've been serving as one of three supervisory team leads in my office. Currently, we're working on countless projects to support the 2020 Census as well as other censuses and surveys conducted by our agency. We're moving away from paper where possible by supporting workflows with interactive maps and applications.

How has working with ESRGC prepared you for your current position? Not only did working for the ESRGC expose me to many different real world applications of GIS, it helped me foster relationships with real GIS professionals and understand how the professional world of GIS could and should work. It boosted my resume and confidence with solid and impressive experience before even venturing out of college education. My involvement in the ESRGC gave me opportunities to present my work to higher-level professionals in a work setting and so much more. I owe a lot to SU, the ESRGC, and the amazing people I encountered in both places.

Have you gone to any GIS conferences? How did they go? I attend GIS-related conferences regularly, but very recently I had the opportunity to join the Deputy Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Chief of the Geography Division, and two other colleagues on stage as a part of the Day 2 Plenary session of the Esri Federal GIS Conference. I live demo'd a tool I helped develop to focus outreach and promotion to support the 2020 Census (;

Dream job? (doesn’t have to be GIS/ESRGC related) I honestly can't envision myself doing anything much different than I do now. If I were forced to change careers at this stage in the game, I think I'd become an events and/or wedding planner AND incorporate GIS somehow =D

What do you like to do in your spare time? In my spare time I really enjoy watching Netflix crime documentaries/dramas with my wife (Ana) and our rescue pup (Rocco). I love spending time with my crazy and huge family as well as hosting game nights with friends I've known since 6th grade.

Do you have a LinkedIn?


The Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative (ESRGC) at Salisbury University quarterly features a current or former intern for our Intern Spotlight.  The ESRGC provides geographic information system (GIS) technology, data, technical support, and training to governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations in Maryland and across the Mid-Atlantic.  Since launching in 2004, the ESRGC has provided valuable paid internships to hundreds of Salisbury University students, allowing them to learn real-world skills that prepare them for a direct transition to the workforce.  ESRGC internships range from analyzing databases for local governments to field verifying broadband access in rural areas, and everything in between.  For more information on how your organization could leverage the advantage of this inexpensive, highly-motivated, technical GIS intern, or how to apply for an internship, please contact Lauren McDermott at

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