Women in Geomatics: Jaime Simpson – Pipeline Surveying in Alberta
GoGeomatics: We are talking to Jaime Simpson, formerly an Ottawa resident and recent graduate of Carleton University’s Geomatics program. Jaime recently moved to Calgary from Ottawa to pursue job opportunities in GIS and geomatics.
GoGeomatics: Thanks for talking with the community, Jaime. We would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from and what have you been doing?
Jaime: Well, I grew up in and around the Ottawa Valley for the most part, but I also lived in Victoria, B.C for a year with my family too. Before attending University, I traveled and worked abroad for years in many different places like Australia, Japan, the Caribbean and more. My little claim to fame is that I have raced in two stock car races and even placed. For fun, I like touring around with my camera, taking interesting shots.
GoGeomatics: Before you embarked on your studies in geomatics, you worked for almost 5 years as a Scuba Diving Instructor in the Caribbean. How did your work there inform and shape your decision to get into geomatics.
Jaime: Actually, I never thought that anything in my past had influenced my decision to pursue a geomatics career. Apart from the marine life and the beautiful natural scenery, what I loved about scuba diving was that every dive provided various opportunities to do many things better than the last dive, and new physical and mental challenges could arise at any time. Now I know I see GIS in the same light, meaning that each time I sit down to answer a spatial question, the data, software and type of analysis challenges me with new puzzles while providing me with the opportunity to find ways to work more efficiently.
GoGeomatics: While you were a student in Ottawa, you attended the Ottawa GoGeomatics socials for over a year fairly regularly. Now that your in Calgary have you been able to go to a Calgary GoGeomatics Social? What do the GoGeomatics social mean to you? Why do you go?
Jaime: Yes, I have been to every one of them since I arrived because I wanted to be around like-minded people, talk about GIS and, most importantly, network with others in my field. I wanted to hear about where people worked, what they were working on and what software they were using. From the students that attended, I wanted to obtain copies of school lab assignments and local data so that I too could become more familiar with local practices and data. The socials have expanded my professional network, and I have even made some new friends. I like the relaxed pub atmosphere.
Editors Note: you can see the list of all our socials here http://www.gogeomatics.ca/groups
Jaime: Simply put, I was terrified. During my last year of school, I started to realize a few things.
Firstly, I started to take more notice of the geospatial research and projects my teachers were involved in, and noticed they were using math and computer science skills to a level that my geomatics degree program barely touched upon. So I started to question, ‘what bankable GIS skills do I have?’
Secondly, how am I, a new geomatics graduate, going to get a job in Ottawa, where so many people with degrees and related work experience are in the process of losing their jobs?
Most importantly, I didn’t want to just land a job. Starting at the wrong job could undo all my hard work. What if all day long I just digitized maps, drew vectors and printed maps from templates I didn’t design? I might get pigeonholed; I wouldn’t be learning anything new, and this would in no way help to solidify a foundation of skills through application and experience. I wanted to secure a position in a growing company that used state of the art technology. So Calgary seemed like the obvious choice, where its energy industry is fast-paced and technology-driven and geomatics/GIS plays a major supportive role.
GoGeomatics: Congratulations after only 3 months you’ve secured a position with Precision Geomatics Inc. Can you tell us what you do and what it’s like?
Jaime: I’m a new survey assistant working around Cold Lake Alberta. So now I’m in the field working on the Foster Creek Extension Twinning project. My job consists of surveying for pipeline construction working with surveyors with over 15 years experience. I really enjoy being outside and constantly learning more about surveying. I’m developing new skills and applying them in the field.
GoGeomatics: What is a typical day like in the field?
Jaime: I get up at 5 am, and because it’s a great camp with a cafeteria (around 400 people in the camp), I can have a full breakfast of my choice. They also provide a selection of lunches to take with us. We take a safety meeting at 6:30 am and head into the field by truck. We set up our Trimble R8 base station when we reach our destination and unload our quads. We have a Trimble TSC3 controller we use on this setup. Most of the time we are flagging the right of way (ROW) and temporary workspaces. As our project is in pre-construction phase. Many days we finish around 6:30 pm as it’s too dark to work after that. Then its back to camp for supper then bed.
GoGeomatics: What struck you about camp life that you didn’t expect?
Jaime: Just this year the law changed for camps. Now everyone gets a bathroom to themselves and a room. Previously, like last year, people could be sharing bathrooms but they did have their own rooms. This makes camp life a lot more comfortable for everyone. The is no shortage of hot water on site. We get TV and internet in our rooms. We have a full gym on site and entertainment room fitted out with virtual golf and a pool table to say the least.
GoGeomatics: What about the scheduling of work? How long are you in the field?
GoGeomatics: You’ve entered a male dominated profession, what is it like being one of the few women on site? What is the ratio of men to women in the camp?
Jaime: I had some vague preconceived ideas but the reality is life at camp and at work is like everywhere else. As to the number of women it seems to me, but my experience is limited to this one camp, that it’s around one to ten.
GoGeomatics: We want to thank Jaime for taking the time to speak to the community and sharing her story with us. Again congratulations on the new job. We wish you all the best on your career path, Jaime, and hope to see you at more GoGeomatics socials in the future.