Geoinformatics Career Guide Series
BY – Ayush Aggarwal
Career Trajectory from Civil Engineer to Analyst Job
GUEST POST – Vedashree Mankar
Hi, I’m Vedashree Mankar. I did my Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT), Maharashtra. I have tried to explain how I got introduced to Geoinformatics, my internship experience, what all I learned along the journey, and what I’m doing presently. I hope you find it helpful.
In my 2nd year, I wasn’t finding any interest in my branch (Civil Engineering). I didn’t know what my interest or applications of the subjects were in the present world. It all felt outdated. I did an internship in the summers after my 2nd year in images Pvt. Ltd. Consultancy. I worked on area mapping and cropping methods using Google Earth images and aerial surveying. I read a lot more and found out about the Geoinformatics field.
While searching for an internship in this subject in my 3rd year, I came across a Quora answer written by Ayush. I went through his website, his blogs and they are amazing. He reached out to me if I needed any help or have an interest in the subject (which felt like a blessing). As per his suggestions and my reading, I did some online courses from Coursera, learned Python, and started applying for internships in foreign universities and IITs. My pointer was not very impressive and wasn’t very promising for the professors to accept me as an intern (I would highly recommend you to maintain a decent pointer of 8+).
So, I received a lot of rejections until I got accepted by Dr. Balaji Devaraju from IIT Kanpur. He wanted me to work on studying NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) data and GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite data. I went to IIT Kanpur under the SURGE program and it was the best internship experience. IITs are already famous for how amazing they are. But coming from an NIT, I got to witness the advanced research going on, seeing students of my age or younger working on some cool advanced projects, having amazing discussions with professors, and whatnot. People were working on photogrammetry, GNSS, Lidar data, etc. I worked on NDVI and GRACE satellite data to find a relationship between the two datasets if exists. Since I didn’t have any prior theoretical knowledge in this subject, my sir taught us the basic concepts of spherical harmonics, Kepler laws, hydrology, and water storage. I had to learn MATLAB, time-series correlation, Granger Causality, and a lot of different mathematical techniques to study the huge datasets. It was a lot of hard work but I was enjoying it. This was more like a theoretical domain in Geoinformatics and some parts of Geodesy. But there is so much more like Urban planning, land use management, network analysis, efficient transport systems, etc. You can explore and apply a lot in this field these days.
With the same enthusiasm, I wanted to continue in this field to get specialization. I decided to go for further studies on this subject and pursue a Masters’s from a foreign university. I prepared and gave my GRE and TOEFL exams. In the meantime, I also sat for campus placements, just so I have an option if nothing worked out. I had applied to many universities and got an admit from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). It was like a dream come true, getting selected in TU Delft, one of the top 5 colleges in the world.
But then COVID-19 pandemic came in and all the equations changed. The university didn’t offer a deferral and asked to join the online semester which was not worth the huge fees I was going to pay. So, I refused the admit and joined the job in a pharmaceutical consultancy as a data analyst which I had got through campus placements. I was devasted then but now when I look at it, I realized I was too rigid with my choices and thought that it was the only way. There are still so many amazing options out there. I’m still studying, analyzing huge datasets, the only difference being this data is from the pharma domain. Currently, I’m focused on learning new skills and finding interesting projects to work on.
I have still not given up on Geoinformatics because there is so much to explore even as a data analyst.