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Megan Perron in cap and gown

Penn State has absolutely launched my career in GIS....I could not be happier with my experience!

A Chat with Megan

Let us know a little about yourself, your current employment, and how you ‘found’ GIS. 

My name is Megan Perron. I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I’m currently based out of the Denver Metro area where I’m an Associate Technical Consultant at Esri. I work in the Professional Services Division where I’m focused on helping our users with app configuration, automation, and system architecture. My undergraduate degree was in Environmental Science, Economics, and Policy from Claremont McKenna College in SoCal. In my last semester of undergrad, I took a GIS course on a whim that led me to Penn State’s Graduate Certificate Program and eventually, the full MGIS.

What did you appreciate about your experience with Penn State's online geospatial education program? 

I was lucky enough to work on a capstone project with Brandi Gaertner as my advisor. We used a MaxEnt machine learning model in ArcGIS Pro to predict emerald ash borer dispersal throughout the West Coast, as it had made its way to the region for the first time in the Summer of 2022. I had the opportunity to present this research at the Entomological Society of America's Annual Conference in November 2023 in Washington, DC. Anthony Robinson and his team happened to have some funding available to enable my attendance, where I got to meet Brandi in person and present this cutting-edge work. It was an incredible experience that I'll never forget.

How do you plan to apply your degree, and how have you been using the skills gained from your coursework so far?

I started this program with no intention of pursuing a full Master's degree, just the graduate certificate, but I was hooked immediately. With two courses under my belt, I secured a GIS internship with the Nature Conservancy, which led to another opportunity with the GIS/Natural Resources division of the Oregon Department of Transportation. This summer I interned with Esri as a technical consultant, which turned into a full-time position in Denver, CO. I was able to continue working at Esri part-time as a Student Technician while I completed my degree at the end of 2023.

I'm now several weeks into my position, where I'm focused on supporting Esri customers in the Intermountain Region on complex configuration projects, data pipeline and workflow automation with Python, and ArcGIS software upgrades and migrations. Brandi and I are continuing to work together in hopes of publishing a paper this spring. Penn State has absolutely launched my career in GIS and has a stellar reputation in the Esri community. I could not be happier with my experience. Huge huge huge thank you!

Do you have any advice for incoming students or students considering online geospatial education programs at Penn State?

As with all things, but especially remote learning, you get what you put into this program. Go all in - make connections with your instructors and classmates, spend the extra time to really understand the technical material, and ask stupid questions.

Thank you Megan! If you have questions about our program, please send a message to and we would be happy to talk with you!