ArcGIS has become a platform—a foundation upon which geospatial professionals build custom solutions that meet their organizations’ particular needs. Graduates of higher education programs in GI systems and science who can code software and build apps are highly sought after by employers. The Esri Development Center (EDC) program confers special status and benefits upon a select few leading university departments that challenge their students to develop innovative applications based upon the ArcGIS platform. This can include programs that help students advance and extend Esri’s core software or that provide training in system integration and application development within a particular domain. EDCs may be degree-granting academic departments or GIS research and development centers within higher education institutions that maintain an Esri Education Site License. Students affiliated with EDC programs gain special access to Esri software and have opportunities to be recognized for their accomplishments.
One of the expectations associated with the EDC designation is that Centers will sponsor participation by students in the annual Esri International Developers Summit in Palm Springs – or a corresponding regional event. The 2014 Developers Summit attracted thirty-seven faculty members and students representing 13 Esri Development Centers. A record eight EDC students were accepted to present talks. Esri education team members attended most of these.
EDC representatives and Esri staff met at the event. As in previous years, the main agenda item was to hear from EDC reps about activities at their centers, with an emphasis on student app development. In addition, the meeting featured two guest presentations. The first was by Andrew Turner of Esri’s Washington DC R&D Center, who introduced the ArcGIS Open Data initiative. Later, Jim Barry, leader of the Esri Developer Network program, discussed Esri’s support for Dev Meetups and hackathons, as well as Esri’s new website for developers.
Related to this, John Nording and Michael Humber – students affiliated with the EDC at the University of Maryland – earned second place in the Dev Summit hackathon. This is a remarkable achievement considering that their competitors included teams of commercial developers. We hope to see more EDC hackers compete next year, and more EDCs established at leading institutions!