Geotechnical Analyst
LaRoche Petroleum Consultants

“I was actually in a different program at Brookhaven when I got a job as an administrative assistant at my current company, which needed someone to answer the phone. I had previously taught photography for Nikon, Canon and Wolf Camera and was somewhat of an expert in Photoshop — and something just clicked for me when I discovered mapping using GIS technology. I decided to change my field of schooling to match my new job, so that I could advance in my career field.

“I’ve learned a lot about GIS software, and all my classes have gone through the different ways and procedures of mapping and spatial analysis. It’s also been a good learning experience working with other people and groups, because that’s what you have to do out in the field to get the job done.

“I’ve also been lucky to get to go on both GIS field trips to Belize to date. We were divided into three teams: the bathymetry team, which used sonar to gather data points to map the ocean floor; the shoreline team, which collected and categorized trash samples to see how ocean currents and other factors affected the location of shoreline litter; and the environmental/science team, which gathered and analyzed water and soil samples. We also switched teams every few days so that we could get a chance to learn about all the different areas.
“The best part of my Brookhaven experience: everything! My classes have been excellent; I’ve learned all kinds of mapping and learning to work with others. Knowing how to solve problems and get a job completed is sometimes just as important as the actual job skills.”

Valerie Brenner earned her GIS Technician certification through Brookhaven College and has been working towards an associate degree since 2007. In her job for an oil and gas consulting company, she helps to make maps for major oil and gas companies, working with geologists, geophysicists and petroleum engineers to map data that allows volumetric calculations, such as how much oil and gas are in their reservoirs and what methods are cost-effective to complete extraction.