Hello Internet!

My name is Ryan Parker, and I’m a first-year masters student at Carleton University. I am doing a master of science in geography with a specialization in data science being supervised by Murray Richardson. When I’m not slaving away behind a computer you’ll normally find me skateboarding, snowboarding, rock climbing or some other activity usually involving something ridiculous or me getting covered in dirt. But I’m not writing about any of that stuff here.

I graduated with a BSc. in Geomatics from Carleton in spring 2017, and after a short period of funemployment (having fun being unemployed) I was hired as a casual employee at the Geological Survey of Canada with the title of Permafrost Mapping Analyst. I had three main roles:

  • To map permafrost and other related landform features using high-res satellite imagery converted to 3D using a DEM;
  • To streamline the methodology of converting raw imagery to 3D stereo-pairs for mapping;
  • To help create an open file detailing the methodology of the project, as well as a complete spatial database of permafrost-related landform features.

When I was brought on board, a lot of the initial heavy lifting regarding image processing was already complete, but I was asked to apply my knowledge of Python and streamline the process so that large amounts of data could be processed quickly and easily. I happily obliged and wrote a series of python scripts integrated into ArcToolbox that performed most of the image processing. I also wrote a number of other scripts and small tools to create and manipulate common datasets that we were working with, as well as one large script that populated the attribute table of the digitized permafrost-related features. Apart from scripting, the majority of my job was digitizing the permafrost-related features from the 3D imagery. This involved slowly and methodically scanning the imagery looking for anything that I could identify as a feature of interest and then digitizing those features into a geodatabase. We did this using a combination of DAT/EM’s Summit Evolution and ArcMap which link together allowing you to digitize in 3D using ArcMap (it’s really cool if you want to check it out). As I worked I documented and made notes on my steps, and in my the final month or two of my contract I ensured that everything was written down so it could be added to the open file.

The main constraint of being a casual employee at the Government of Canada is that you can only work 90 days for a department in a calendar year, I got lucky and was hired in September so I worked until the end of the year and my 90 days reset. But I knew that I was going to have to figure out what to do with myself when my contract was up. At first, the idea of going back to school was met with significant disapproval, but slowly, and then rather quickly I warmed up to the idea. In classic fashion, I realized after the initial February application deadline that I had the grades and wanted to return to school (specifically Carleton). So I contacted Murray to get the ball rolling and suddenly here I am, enrolled and going for it. I’m hoping to do my thesis in essentially automating the feature mapping portion of my job at the GSC using machine learning and object-based image analysis, but we will see how life plays out. But either way, since I’m a member of the ECCE program you will likely be reading about my future thesis endeavors.

Until next 🖖🤘

Ryan