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Building a Career with the FME Grant Program

Finding your dream job is tough. Becoming an FME expert is, well, a learning curve. By embarking on a road trip and sneaking into the FME World Tour, Kelly Dell...

Finding your dream job is tough. Becoming an FME expert is, well, a learning curve. By embarking on a road trip and sneaking into the FME World Tour, Kelly Dell gained a secret weapon that helped her secure a job and advance her career.

Re-launching a Career in GIS

In 2010, Kelly Dell quit her job as a City Planner in Alberta, and she and her husband moved back to Ontario to start a family. After having two children and going back to school for a French certificate while on mat leave (because why not?), she was ready to jump back into her career.

The question was … at what company?

“In 2013, my job prospects in Ontario were not so good.”

Kelly decided to fortify her resume. She entered the Geospatial Management Post Grad Program at Niagara College, where she was given a thesis project for the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO). MTO’s process for converting and updating data was a manual one, and they wanted to automate this using an ETL tool. Kelly was to build a data conversion process for MTO using both ArcGIS Geoprocessing tools and FME, and compare the software’s strengths and weaknesses.

Kelly had experience with ArcGIS through her Post Grad program, so this part came easily. FME, however, was new territory. She wanted help creating her first FME Workspace, and so she enlisted Safe Software’s Platinum Partner, Consortech.

An Educational Road Trip

Embarking on her quest to learn FME Workbench, Kelly tagged along on her sister’s weekend trip to Ottawa and took a bus to the Consortech headquarters in Montreal. There, she learned how to use FME and built her first workspace. Even after she returned home, she didn’t hesitate to call the folks at Consortech when she needed help. She learned about the power of FME for not only data conversion, but all sorts of data automation workflows.

Sneaking into the FME World Tour

When Kelly learned the FME World Tour 2014 was coming to town, she seized the opportunity.

“I wanted to figure out what FME was all about. I needed to know if my thesis project would help me in the real world.”

Kelly registered under a fake company and skipped a day of school to attend. There, she met Safe’s co-founder, Don Murray, and Director of Sales, Craig Vernon, and confessed she was a student and had ‘snuck in’.

Kelly’s confession yielded two valuable results. First, she learned that students are allowed to attend the FME World Tour, so she didn’t actually need to pull a Pink Panther that day. Second, Craig told her about the FME Grant Program.

FAQ: What is the FME Grant Program?
A: The FME Grant Program provides free FME licenses to students, nonprofits, and more.
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A Secret Interview Weapon

Kelly went home that day with a free FME license to carry her through her studies, plus the promise of a one-year license to any employer who hired her after college.

During her last couple of weeks of school, Kelly was interviewed by an engineering consulting company who needed a Technology Analyst with FME experience.

“I was able to say I come with an FME license. I was hired!”

The company adopted FME and hired Consortech to provide FME Basic Training to their GIS Staff. Kelly continued to create FME Workspaces and help clients with their needs.

In 2015, Kelly accepted her current position with the City of Niagara Falls, where they use FME Desktop to save hours of manual work—for example, by integrating data from multiple sources and converting it for use by another department. They have regular in-house training with Consortech, and Kelly continues to share her FME enthusiasm, grow her skills, and attend each year’s FME World Tour.


I met Kelly at the FME World Tour last year in Toronto, and she agreed to share her story with us. Thanks, Kelly!

If you’re a student, nonprofit organization, recent grad, or want to use FME for a proof of concept, check out the many ways you can get FME for free:

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