We Are UNCW Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time.

Travis Woods

Oct. 2, 2017

After spending a decade as a freelance archaeologist – a job that requires a nomadic lifestyle – Travis Woods is happy to be settled in his career at UNCW as a geographic information system technician. He brings the skills he picked up in the field to the office-based world of computer mapping and spatial analysis.

As part of the Office of Facilities staff, Woods maintains the campus GIS, which ties features and attributes to their actual geographic location on the earth’s surface.

“For example, the GIS database stores every fire hydrant on campus as a point at a geographic coordinate,” he said. The database also stores the installation date, the flow rate, the hydrant ID, manufacturer, model and the date last serviced. Having this information is critical for work order and asset management, he added.

“We have a facilities employee who monitors the pressure in and pressure out rates at backflow preventers around campus. Previously, that task was done on paper, by writing down the backflow preventer location and recording the pressure measurements. If analysis was needed, someone would need to copy all that observation data into a spreadsheet, hoping that the locations had been recorded properly.”

Woods’ job also entails the development and maintenance of online utility mapping systems so underground utility data can be viewed. During renovation and construction projects, it’s critical to know where underground utilities are located. He is transitioning to a cloud-based system to make the server that hosts the online utility maps as “crash proof” as possible.

In addition to tracking what goes on under the ground beneath our feet, Woods and his colleagues support projects and research. Earlier this year, Woods developed a simple Android app that allows the user to walk up to a backflow preventer, take a GPS point and automatically generate a form to record the pressure readings. After the pressures are recorded, the user presses “okay” and the GPS point and associated form are uploaded to the cloud, and can be immediately accessed on an office computer in real time.

While we all marvel at how technology has made our work and tasks much simpler, Woods marvels that after two years on the job, it seems like he only started a few months ago. “UNCW is growing in every way,” he said. “I plan to be here when it turns 100 and can only imagine the changes that will take place between now and then.”

-- Caroline Cropp