My Last Day at AIR Worldwide

Today is my last day with AIR Worldwide, a global natural catastrophe modeling firm, based in Boston.  I have been with AIR since June 20, 2010, working in the Research and Modeling group as the lead of the Data Management Group.

This was my first job out of grad school.  During the spring of 2010 I was finishing my PhD. in geography from the University of Connecticut.  My dissertation focused on building an impact model from deterministic interdiction scenarios (think terrorists taking out a supply network) in a GIScience framework.  At the time, pretty much all academic job postings, which were few and far between, were in places that I wasn’t going to move to, or were looking for a different type of geographer (plenty of nontechnical jobs, but few hardcore GIScience positions).  I had a couple of work options available to me in Connecticut, but I wasn’t particularly excited about any of them.  So, towards the end of the spring semester I said I was going to take the summer off to relax and plan my next move.  My wife hated that plan, but I went forward with it.

After about two weeks of sitting around my apartment, watching reruns of CSI and Law and Order SVU on an endless loop, I came to the realization that I needed to get a job.  The economy was horrible at the time and I had many friends and classmates who had lost their jobs, or couldn’t find one.  I was worried that I was extremely over educated for the types of positions I was seeing available or not qualified enough for anything mid-level.  With this worry, I wasn’t applying for a number of jobs, and constantly questioning why I even got a PhD .

During the later stages of May 2010, I think I applied to a couple government jobs, and tech jobs, but nothing came of them.  Then one day I went to the old and entered the search team “spatial analyst” because, why not.  Needless to say not much came up in the results, but there was one position in Boston that caught my attention – Analyst, Data Management at AIR Worldwide.  I don’t remember the job description or requirements now, but it looked good to me.  My wife and I talked about the possibility of me applying to job the since it was in Boston and we would have to move not only away from Connecticut, but displace her from the job she had at the time at UMASS Amherst.  We worked out some plans and I applied for the job.  By June 20th, I was in my desk at AIR, starting my career in the field of natural catastrophe modeling and analysis.

I was first hired as an analyst, working with the Research teams on building out various data management workflows, contributing to a wide variety of analysis and technical projects for clients around the world, and expanding and sharpening my technical skills.  I joined a research team of over 50 earth scientists, engineers, statisticians, and programmers, with a majority having a PhD.  A few weeks prior to joining AIR I was worried I made the wrong choice in spending years getting a PhD., and now I was in a job that allowed me to use and expand my skills and education.

Day 1

I was really, really lucky.  I got a job pretty quickly in a down economy, and one that took advantage of my education and skillset.  Many of my friends and classmates couldn’t say that at the time.

At AIR, I got to build innovative tools to solve big problems, provide critical analysis and data for clients, and grow professionally in many aspects of my career.  I got promotions and moved into the manager ranks.  I was also fortunate to build a successful team that produced many skilled individuals who moved on to bigger and better roles throughout the years.

It was a perfect fit for many years.

Flash-forward to September 8, 2017 and I am typing up my goodbye emails and cleaning-up my desk. Like with any job, I eventually did all I could do. I knew I was capping-out in my organization and potential for career growth was slowing. I knew if I was to advance my career, I needed to move into the user space (like working for an insurance company, doing natural catastrophe analysis), where I had been in the vendor space for the past seven years.

This past June, I was approached with a opportunity to join the Natural Catastrophe team at Homesite, a Boston based insurance company, as a Catastrophe Risk Manager. I accepted the job in late August.

I am looking forward to moving from the vendor space to the user space in my industry and to continue to utilize my background and skillset.  I have a TON to learn, but I am incredibly excited to so. I am energized to learn new things, gain a new perspective, and to be challenged.

I will be eternally grateful to my coworkers at AIR from the past seven years.  I really enjoyed this job, and for a vast majority of days I was excited to go to work.  I worked with some incredibly smart and hardworking people.  I was also very fortunate to have a great manager, and a great team to work with.

Without them I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to move into this new role.

Day 2,637

Thanks AIR!

I also need to thank my wife, Danielle.  Before we moved to Boston she had a good job at UMASS, and she gave it up to move to Boston (she tried the commute for a while but it was too tough).  Since the entire higher ed field was down and jobs were scarce, she went back to school and changed her career in the first couple years we lived here.  She made a huge sacrifice for my career and I can never repay her for that.

See you on Monday, Homesite.  I am sure we’ll be very, very, very busy. Updates

I made a few updates to a number of pages on the site. The GIS Blogs page is now called Geo Blogs and I added a few more blogs to the list. Also, I made sure the mash-ups available on the map mash-up page all work.  I try to keep up with the mash-up examples, but sometimes data sources change and I need to update the code.

Thanks for reading!

Avid Geo September Meet-Up! [UPDATE!]

Avid Geo September Meet-Up is coming up this week. Check it out…

And, again, I can’t make it. Why am I always busy on the third Thursday of the month…

UPDATE – Guido Stein, leader of the Avid Geo group, sent out an update about this month’s meet-up:

Just wanted to give you a heads up that the meeting is coming up on Thursday and we are going to be hosted by the wonderful people at Applied Geographics also know to me as my company.

This month Lars will be giving us a little demo on basic OSM editing and I will be sharing a little python code for data for geometric manipulation.

We will be trying to record and push this meeting onto youtube at the avidgeo to share the meeting with the rest of the world…

Want more info?  Check out (and join) the Avid Geo meet-up group.

Dear ACS, if you are killed off, I will miss you…

Since it is widely regarded that killing the American Community Survey is a bad idea it would make complete sense that portions of the Senate still want to end it.  The main arguments against the ACS are that it is expensive, intrudes on privacy and is “unconstitutional”, whereas the benefits (which in my opinion far outweigh any of the negatives)  generally go along the lines of better data equals better decision making.

I wanted to write a full post about the dangers of ending ACS from the point of view of a geographer, but I became very frustrated reading the stories about why it should be ended that I just deleted everything I had except the first paragraph you just read.  However, I do think it is important to at least give my opinion as a geographer and someone who values good, unbiased data:

Without current and quality spatial data you won’t know where you are or where you are going…

In a world where big data and quantitative analytics are essential to data-driven decision making the loss of the ACS could send shock waves through the business, academic, non-profit, and government worlds.

Now, I am going to volunteer some personal information, tag my location, and post some pictures to Facebook.  Now, there is a data collector I can trust!


Note: It is reported that the White House will veto this if passed.

Comments, comments, comments

For the first time ever I have gone through the comments on and responded to a number of them.  Keep the comments coming!

Moving forward I promise I’ll be more responsive when readers post comments and questions!  Maybe:)