The GANS “Student Highlight” article series recognizes budding geomatics professionals and allows them the opportunity to showcase their work, their skills and their career aspirations to the greater geospatial community of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. In this newsletter we are sharing the journeys of our two new Student Representatives on the GANS Board of Directors.
Meet Sabrina Hiefer, an engineer seeking a new career path in geomatics. Sabrina is currently a student at COGS.
My education and background:
Currently, I am a student at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in the Marine Geomatics program. The program requires either a BEng or BSc for admittance (some alternative routes can be taken within, with consent of the college), so they begin the classes with a bang! We currently have seven courses, which include GPS, Geodesy, Python, GIS, CAD, Hydrography, and of course a lovely field component to apply all of our knowledge. The goal of many students, including myself, is to go into rotational offshore as hydrographic surveyors. In such, we are currently working on numerous projects, ranging from how to read and measure charts, how to give directions at sea, using a GPS along with surveying equipment to gather pertinent geolocation information, and of course numerous items on how to present all of this data.
What interests me about geomatics:
The first few weeks were quite the blur and seemed like nothing would ever come together, but surely and slowly the pieces began to fall into place. I’m now gaining a full picture of what geomatics allows us to do and how we can apply it within the workforce. I enjoy the mixture of multiple elements blending together for a common outcome such as chart reading, gathering GPS data to produce high precision coordinates, and creating data-filled maps.
How I decided on a career in geomatics:
Due to covid altering my entire industry for the foreseeable future, I found myself back at the grind of late nights and abnormal eating schedules. I previously completed a Bachelor of Applied Science at Acadia University (’14) and a Bachelor of Engineering at Dalhousie University (’17), and slowly progressed into private industry, working contracts across the country. Having worked rotational jobs on land as a project manager, I fell in love with the lifestyle it presents. My dive buddy works rotational offshore, and with my industry still changed due to covid, hers continued forward. So I investigated my options and felt marine geomatics would be a great fit.
My career goals:
My short term career goals are to enter into rotational offshore work and my long term career goals are to gain more knowledge and potentially go into a project manager role again, as this is what I have been doing for a few years now.
My ideal employer:
Having worked multiple contracts across Canada, the most important element for me is a mutual respect. An acknowledgement that I will do my best possible work, while they treat me with professional respect and offer a regular challenge for me to further improve my skill sets.
Advice for other students:
There’s no need to rush everywhere you’re going. As cliché as it may sound, enjoy the journey there. Take the chance to smell the roses and grab a beer, as you’ll look back at these moments more often than the all nighters to meet school deadlines. Having said this, if you opt to go into the Marine Geomatics program at COGS, be prepared for anywhere from 50 to 75 hour weeks, filled with an endless amount of tasks. On the bright side, it makes the wine taste that much sweeter when you finish!
Benefits of volunteering with GANS Board of Directors:
Being completely new to the geomatics realm, GANS expands my knowledge of the potential applications of my education. I entered the Marine Geomatics with a goal to complete rotational offshore, but my career paths are not limited to just that application. The board has a wide range of professionals, and each one has their own unique path that they’re more than willing to discuss!
Although my head is often in the books, I love being outdoors. In my ‘spare’ time, I’ve managed to still go out scuba diving and plenty of hiking. I’m very eager to re-enter the workforce at full tilt, and get back into the field. I do also love hearing about people’s paths, so feel free to connect!