Graduate Studied Beaches from Water and Sky at Island University

Published: May 12, 2015

Graduate Studied Beaches from Water and Sky at Island University

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Justin Giessel has much to be proud of as he takes the stage to obtain his Master of Science degree in Geospatial Survey Engineering at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. For starters, he has maintained a 4.0 grade point average, all while working full time at Naismith Marine Services, Inc., and raising a family. He also managed his studies via online courses with the GSEN program during a temporary migration to Colombia where he was also able to work remotely. 

Giessel is one of about 1,000 who will graduate from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi during the 2015 Spring Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 16 at the American Bank Center Arena. Giessel graduates in the second ceremony at 2 p.m. with College of Science and Engineering and College of Liberal Arts. The first ceremony, with graduates from College of Business, College of Education and College of Nursing and Health Sciences, begins at 10 a.m.

His many accomplishments in his field of geospatial engineering stem from hands-on research with participation in the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test flights over campus as part of the first series of federally approved missions for the program.  Giessel was part of a team of student researchers working with Dr. Michael Starek, Assistant Professor of Geospatial Survey Engineering, that flew and monitored a small UAS to collect imagery for campus planning and development, 3D building modeling, and monitoring shoreline changes.

He co-authored several papers, one that received an international audience, related to survey mapping techniques.

For Giessel, working while pursuing his degree allowed him to surround himself with mentors who were a critical part of his support system.  “My supervisors, Jim Naismith and Seth Gambill, not only believed in my vision starting from Colombia, but they have also supported me financially, as well as through intellectual feedback and response,” he said.

He elected to study geospatial engineering because of the many career opportunities it presents. He focused on land surveying, and oil and gas operations, and was also involved in environmental engineering projects regarding beach re-nourishment, erosion protection, and offshore windfarm design support. 

It was the water that drew Giessel to the Island University, attracted by the coastal and ocean research occurring here.

“There is an emphasis on the interconnectedness of all humankind through the sea and environmental stewardship is promoted at the University,” he said.

Giessel says he would not have completed his master’s degree if not for the support of his family, especially his wife, Johanna. 

He hasn’t yet settled on post-graduation plans, but said he is excited to have many options to pick. He may return to Colombia or remain at the Island University, which just approved a Ph. D. in geospatial computing sciences.

“At this stage in a geospatial science career, the next step for intellectual advancement is in computing science and tackling that challenge in Spanish sounds like one for the books,” he said.