In this series of profiles on the team here at GeoSLAM, Cheryl Smith discusses her role as software engineer.
What route did you take to get your job at GeoSLAM?
During my school years, Maths had always been my favourite subject; combining a love for solving complex puzzles with algorithms. I pursued a degree in the subject, which then provided me with the opportunity to take up an MSc in Control Systems, a course that combined engineering and maths.
Using my experience, I applied for a PhD in Control Systems, leading me to take on a role at a major energy firm, allowing me to put my skills to the test by assessing algorithms and software on real-life systems. I have also been lucky enough to work in the medical electronics, aerospace and instrumentation industries, all of which opened my eyes to a new career path with GeoSLAM, enabling me to really hone my skills in data analysis, software development, hardware interfacing, and algorithm design.
What does your day-to-day job entail?
Much of my day is spent designing and writing software, covering monitoring systems which use laser scanners in a variety of applications. Some of these include measurement of concrete in tunnels, monitoring of cliff faces for signs of erosion, and scanning stockpiles in mines and recycling plants.
The software I write typically has some interaction with hardware such as laser scanners, motors, and GPS equipment, so I often have various forms of kit on my desk plugged into my computer. Our software development teams have fortnightly meetings too, in which new work is prioritised and allocated, followed by a review of the progress to ensure we are meeting deadlines.
What do you enjoy most about working at GeoSLAM?
I’ve always enjoyed working in an engineering environment and writing software that interacts with hardware. It’s particularly rewarding when you get some new software working for the first time, and see a motor move or some data displayed.
The range of products at GeoSLAM, and the varied application areas, means that there is always something new to learn. A team of great developers with experience in all types of industries and with a range of programming knowledge is on hand, so you are never stuck for someone to talk through a technical challenge and get a second opinion. Their input is invaluable in the software design stage, to ensure we are creating products that provide our customers with the functionality they require.
It’s no secret that a strong team breeds a positive working environment, and that much is true for the GeoSLAM offices. There’s a brilliant team spirit within the company, with people from all departments pulling together and ‘going the extra mile’ to get the job done.
Do you have a particular interest in exploring any other sectors available?
I currently work on geospatial systems that are used in sectors such as mining, surveying and forestry, but it’s always interesting to come across an opportunity to work in a new sector and learn about the various requirements, designs and terminologies.
Prior to my career at GeoSLAM, I worked at a turbomachinery instrumentation company, in which I held various positions from software developer, to product manager. I worked on systems that were used to test the performance of aero-engines and power generation turbines, using various sensors to measure parameters such as temperature, pressure, stresses and vibrations. So I am always open to exploring new opportunities.
What is your best achievement, personally or professionally, to date?
I have been incredibly lucky to work in such interesting environments and to be involved with some amazing pieces of technology over the years. Overall, I believe my biggest achievement was in taking on and obtaining my PhD.
I didn’t know anyone with a PhD at the time and the prospect of acquiring one was pretty daunting. It wasn’t just the academic challenge, but the personal one – as a very shy and reserved 22 year old, the thought of having to stand up at conferences and speak in front of a room of people to present my idea was terrifying. I learnt so much about researching and analysing information which are skills I have used in my professional life ever since.
If you’re interested in joining Cheryl and the rest of the team at GeoSLAM, take a look at our careers page to check out our current vacancies.