Alumni stories: Marwa
Marwa studied GIS to boost her carreer
Marwa Farouk Elkabbany from Egypt planned to become an architect after completing her BSc in Architecture at Cairo University, as she was fond of art, home and space designs. But things changed when she had her urban development course and started realizing that many Egyptians live in slum areas. So she choose to continue her studies with GIS to get involved in urban planning.
Marwa Farouk Elkabbany studied the Master programme in GIS and graduated 2019. The current programme is a joint GIS programme between Lund University and ITC-University of Twente, Holland. As a student you have the possibility to choose your own study-pace (100%,50% or 25%). This interview was made in spring 2019.
When you started to look at university studies, what did you plan to work with after graduation?
My plan was to become an architect after completing my BSC in Architecture, as I was fond of art, home and space designs. But things changed when I had my urban development course on my third year and started realizing that more than half of the Egyptian population live in slum areas. This is when I started to divert my passion to Urban development rather than Architecture for I felt this is much more crucial to start with. And since Geographic Information Systems is almost essential for planning urban development, I started my study path on it aiming to utilize it in sustainable urban development.
What did you study at Lund University?
I have learned more about GIS which is a particular form of Information System applied to geographical data where spatial and other kinds of information are integrated within a single system.mI have learned connecting what with the where, to answer how questions. This is simply because viewing and analyzing information on a map impacts our understanding of the world and the phenomena we study and thus help us answer questions and solve problems quickly. Moreover I have learned how GIS can be a decision support tool for it's essential in simulating decisions related to our natural environment, built environment or demography. We can easily use it in running "What if" questions to assess the impact of any decision or phenomena before taking place.
Why did you choose this programme?
My orientation towards GIS started ever since I was studying architecture, these five years of architecture studying made it clear to me that we cannot build a tower without digging a hole. So, I found myself directed towards urban development. I tried to find a job right after my graduation in July 2003 but it wasn't that easy because authorities working in this field in Egypt are not too many and by that time they had no vacancy for me. "How can I increase my opportunity in finding a place in these authorities?" That's what I was thinking about then, and my answer was to find my technical skills a remarkable addition that may increase my credibility as a potential employee in these urban development authorities.
What are you working with today? What paths led you here?
Currently (2019) I am the GIS Lead in Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority of United Arab Emirates (UAE). My work includes utilizing GIS in Sustainable Development Goals achievements as well as in national statistics. I passed by more than 12 years of experience in GIS solutions with comprehensive involvement in all phases of the Project Development Life Cycle including: project planning, requirements analysis, data collection and processing, geo-spatial modelling, researching products and technologies, implementation and development, technical documentation, quality control, system deployment, end-user training, and customer support. I've worked with Governmental Planning Entities, Municipalities, Telecom companies, GIS Consultation Companies and Food and Agriculture Organization- FAO.
What did your choice of studying physical geography and ecosystem science mean to your carreer? Did you get any important tools?
Studying physical geography and ecosystem science gave me a better understanding and insights on the complexity of natural and built up environment problems. It made me realize how a small change in our environment can have divergent and complex implications on many systems. Moreover, it gave me the technical competency to address such challenges through employing the geo location intelligence and techniques - starting from data management, information mapping, visualizing, analyzing and simulating what-if scenarios.
How was studying at Lund University?
My study experience in Lund University is quite a great and rich experience that I am so content and grateful to have . And the credit for this goes to
- the staff expertise,
- the very rich course content
- the staff support and encouraging spirit
- Resources availed - software licenses specially
- Flexibility in time
I would definitely advise other students specially those studying GIS to join Lund University for it had been my best academic experience.