I worked for Thiess, a global mining services provider, in the area of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Not only is GIS a mapping and sharing platform for data, but it can also analyse and transform data into meaningful information so that people can make better decisions. Thiess utilises GIS technology to drive the efficiency in their data through web mapping applications, geospatial analysis and spatial software.
If you have ever used web mapping applications like Google Maps, Uber, Pokémon GO or an online map, then you have been exposed to the ‘front-end’ of a GIS’ capability. As a vacation student, I helped develop the ‘back-end’ and ‘front-end’ of the GIS. My work will help turn Thiess’ location-based data into dynamic and visually aesthetic online mapping services and resources to the organisation. I collaborated with surveyors, mining, civil, geotechnical, and environmental engineers, to share data and information on a web mapping platform.
For instance, I would process mine surface data captured by the surveying team drone flights and display them online for engineers to use in their day to day planning and design operations. On another day I would be coding in Python or C# to develop web forms to generate reporting tools from geospatial analytic outputs. I also got the opportunity to travel to mine sites and promote the use of GIS technology and applications.
I grew up and went to school in Brisbane, Queensland. Growing up, I was encouraged to participate in many extra-curricular activities and communities including musical ensembles, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, chess, cricket, online courses, clubs & societies. To this day, I participate in social soccer and community orchestra in my spare time. It is a great way to meet people!
I gained work experience with Sustainable Minerals Institute – Centre for Water in the Mining Industry (SMI-CWiMi) by talking to one of my lecturers whilst completing a Bachelor’s degree in Civil & Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Queensland. During my work experience, I was heavily involved with utilising Geographical Information Systems to make more informed engineering and research decisions. From there, I grew an interest in providing geospatial solutions to personnel and joined a helicopter surveying company, HAWCS, and decided to undertake a Masters in Geographical Information Systems (GIS).
I applied to the Thiess Vacation Program as a GIS Masters student and have been employed in their Technical Services department. When I applied, I thought the opportunity to work with Thiess would allow me to develop and nurture my GIS skills in a familiar engineering environment. I proved that I was a capable member with skills in coding, GIS, and engineering.
Following the Thiess Vacation Program, I was offered the opportunity to work through 2017 while I studied and accepted an opportunity to be a part of Thiess’ graduate program in 2018.
Of course! GIS specialists arrive from a multitude of backgrounds. Myself included; I stumbled into GIS software during my engineering and research work experience. GIS has many different branches of learning and development so, when it comes to a role in GIS, I think one of the key attributes to being successful is a passion for continued learning. Learning is an essential trait to becoming more adaptable and resourceful in any GIS role. Having little to no background in GIS, I was diligent in learning the profession and so could someone else.
One of the key principles at Thiess is ‘Innovation’. In my job, I am encouraged and given the opportunity to innovate and utilise the latest technology in GIS and geospatial science. For instance, I have been collaborating with environmental engineers and surveying teams to develop new vegetation management processes utilising drone technology – a highly challenging, technical and rewarding project. We capture spectral imagery and evaluate the characteristics of the light returned to the drone’s camera in order to quantify vegetation health and growth.
Working in the mining industry means you will likely travel or be away from home for periods of time. When I visit mine sites to implement your GIS technology, I know I will be working longer hours and so, it can be more physically and mentally demanding. Time is also very valuable as trips tend to be short which means you have to push yourself in order to deliver your solutions. You really can’t complain though. Getting out of the office from time to time is a great perk!
My three pieces of advice to myself as a first-year student: