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Alumni Spotlight: Weston Murch

Live from St. Louis, Missouri

Weston Murch graduated from the Geography Department in 2014, but not before he helped Dr. Brandon Plewe organize ThinkSpatial, the for-hire GIS/Cartography service, in 2013. Although his time with the organization was limited to his senior year, Wes says the experience really helped him understand “how many different ways spatial data can be used and interpreted” and despite the difficulties of cartography he also found the that a “good finished product was always fulfilling”.

One such fulfilling project was a series of maps Wes made for Professor Alex Baugh in the Department of Religious Studies. The maps helped tell the story of John C. Fremont’s Western Expedition (1843-44) and were published in Part 1 of the book, Far Away in the West: Reflections on the Mormon Pioneer Trail. During the fall of 2018, Dr. Baugh again hired ThinkSpatial to create maps of Kirtland, Ohio for an ongoing project. Even five years later, Wes’s top-notch work on the Fremont maps had stuck with Dr. Baugh, who began the Kirtland project consultation meeting by recounting his delightful experience working with Wes.

Upon graduating, Wes took his excellent customer service and analytical skills to the City of Spanish Fork where he worked as a GIS analyst and then to Redlands, CA as an intern for Esri before pursuing and completing a MS at the University of Arkansas in 2016, under BYU Alumnus, Dr. Jason Tullis (BS Geography 1999). While at U of A, Wes worked as a lab manager and a GIS/GPS teaching assistant. “I then got a job at ESRI in Redlands, CA and subsequently transferred to the ESRI St. Louis, MO office. I currently help support [the Intelligence Community ArcGIS Portal (IC GIS Portal)], which is pretty cool”.

To gain some insight into some of the less considered aspects of Wes’s day-to-day activities was asked him what is the best part of his commute is: “I love seeing the St. Louis Arch every day when I drive across the Mississippi river”. Wes still maintains his reputation for customer service too. We asked him about some of the most interesting/compelling emails he’s received. He said, “Any email that says “a job well done” or complimenting my efforts on a project. It’s especially nice to get those from customers. I save those in a separate folder”.

When not working, he likes to spend time with family. Recently, he started training for a half marathon and building LEGOs with his son. If “Dad Reflexes” were an Olympic sport, Wes would stand a good chance at winning a Gold medal. “I’m constantly catching dropped toys, food and my kids from falling”. Other activities for the Murch family, include traveling: “I loved visiting Ireland especially the old castles in the countryside”. We also asked what fictional place he would most like to visit: “I would visit Wakanda because I served my mission in Africa and love sci-fi places”.

Wes and his wife at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

To close the interview, we asked him to share some parting words of advice for students. "My advice would be to go out of your way to meet new people. I'm normally not outgoing but I got my full-time job at Esri by scheduling meetings with people during my internship and finding out what they did and which teams I wanted to work with. A second piece of advice would be to learn how to learn and never stop learning. Always look for training opportunities formal and informal."