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Mapping a New Path

Working with story maps is helping Edgar Enrique Reyes bring his own developing future into focus.

Reyes, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the latest student to work with Wisconsin Sea Grant through the UW’s Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program, an effort designed to match promising students with campus departments and projects that mirror their interests.

Reyes grew up in Burbank, California, but came to the Midwest to forge a new path for himself.

“I didn’t want to go somewhere where I knew everybody,” he said. “I told myself, ‘I’m going to start a new life.’ It’s very different here, and I’ve learned to be independent,”

Reyes’ world view isn’t the only thing that’s’ expanded since he arrived in Madison. Although he began his time at UW thinking he’d be pursuing a degree in engineering, he’s now reconsidering, and mulling a possible shift into the UW School of Business, there to pursue a degree in project development and real estate.

“I’ve always wanted to make something and show people what I’ve made,” said Reyes.

That interest fits well with his URS project. Under the mentorship of David Hart, Wisconsin’s Sea Grant’s associate director for extension, Reyes is using tools developed by geographic information systems software giant ESRI to create a series of deep travel modules/maps centered on the maritime heritage and history around Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the home of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. Reyes is creating three different maps, including one using crowdsourced data, to tell the story of the area’s maritme roots. Given that Manitowoc is at the center of a current proposal to create a national Lake Michigan marine sanctuary, Reyes’ URS work is well-timed.

“At first, I thought the tools I was using were pretty basic,” said Reyes. “But then I started playing around with them, and I realized that there’s a lot of interesting things you can do with them. There’s more to offer than I thought—these tools really help put things together.”

Reyes will present his project work as part of the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, set for Thursday, April 13 at Union South. Eventually, Reyes hopes to study abroad, perhaps in Latin America.

“I want to start something that creates community,” he says.

Seems like he already has.