Feb. 17, 2022

Department of Geomatics Engineering launches software minor

Industry insight helps craft cutting-edge programming available this fall

It wasn’t that long ago when virtual reality, autonomous vehicles and GPS technology were saved for works of fiction.

The increasing digital demands of what is now real-world technology has led one of the world’s most-respected geomatics engineering departments to develop a new minor in software engineering for incoming students at the Schulich School of Engineering.

“Geomatics engineering has evolved so rapidly in recent years, especially with GPS and satellite technology and big data,” says Dr. Emmanuel Stefanakis, PhD, head of the Department of Geomatics Engineering. “We are now able to collect so much geospatial data, and software engineering tools have become an integral part of geomatics.”

What industry is looking for

Starting in September 2022, first-year engineering students choosing geomatics as their major will also be able to select the new software minor, reflecting what industry is seeking in new engineering recruits.

“We have been hearing from our industry advisers that geomatics engineers need to have very strong software skills and a programming skill set,” Stefanakis says.

He adds the industry has evolved substantially since the department was formed in 1979, and the need for even more software focus comes with increased demand for geomatics engineering – including a worldwide push for autonomous technology

Advice from software experts

Planned in partnership with the Department of Electrical and Software Engineering, the new minor will cover areas like software design and development, data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

“This multidisciplinary approach is really, really important right now,” Stefanakis says. “The new minor will not only rescale our undergraduate program curriculum and open new employment opportunities for students, but will also enhance the collaboration between the two departments.”

The 'science of location'

The University of Calgary’s Geomatics Engineering department is ranked as most influential in the world by the Web of Science’s Science Citation Index, and Stefanakis says examples of such engineering are all around us.

The foundation of geomatics engineering lies in the science of location. For whatever activity we do today, we need to know where we are, where we are heading, who is around us, and how we are impacting the environment around us.

As technology continues to evolve, Stefanakis sees a need to keep adapting with it, especially as we see more virtual- and augmented-reality development.

Students are impressed

From 3D imaging and autonomous robots to space exploration and even the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Stefanakis says students are impressed when they learn how pervasive geomatics engineering is in everyday life.

“They use that technology every day, as their mobile phones have embedded geomatics technologies like a GPS receiver that feeds a plethora of apps with their instant location to help them navigate, find their friends, geotag their photos or measure their physical activity,” he says.

Stefanakis says the new minor is a perfect marriage between geomatics and software engineering.

“Geomatics engineering technology is advancing today and will continue for years to come,” he says. “This combination will give students so many opportunities for future employment and successful careers.”

You can read more about the specific courses and other opportunities available here.