Nathan is a Geospatial Survey Expertise Technician at Newcastle University. He studied surveying and mapping science (which is now named as Geospatial surveying and mapping) and graduated in 2019. Nathan shares his experiences throughout his degree and advice for someone considering university.
Why did you chose your degree?
I didn’t know a lot about it to start with, it was more that it was an outdoorsy, practical-based degree, and I’ve used a lot of maps so it piqued my curiosity. I was also interested in the topics of sustainability and how to apply real-world surveying to engineering projects.
The main benefit of the degree is that it is accredited by two professional boards – the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (CICES) – so that was a big bonus to have two accreditations depending on what path you wanted to go down further along the line.
I was also attracted by the uniqueness of the course, as Newcastle University is the only university to offer a proper GIS degree and is one of only two universities to offer a pure surveying course, as well as the balance between academic and practical work that would be included in the course.
What were the highlights of your degree?
One of the highlights for me was the cutting-edge software that was available to us, such as ArcGIS Pro and Revit. There was also a variety of equipment available, such as laser scanners and drones, which we got to see in person and learn how they work, as well as using them for dissertation projects, so you’re not restricted with what you do!
I also really enjoyed the fieldtrips we got to go on. In Stage 1 we mapped Glaramara in the Borrowdale Valley over 8 days of fieldwork. Then in Stage 3 we went to Kielder Water to complete a proper survey. The purpose of the exercise was to complete a topographic survey and then set out a potential road. It demonstrated real-life applications of surveying and I felt more prepared to go into work after university.
Newcastle University also hosts an annual careers fair called GENIE, which stands for Geospatial Engineering Newcastle Industry Engagement, which gave me opportunities to meet people in the industry and to organise work experience or summer placements.
What advice would you give for someone thinking about choosing a university?
I would advise them to definitely consider university, as I had initially thought about doing apprenticeship but now, I wouldn’t change my decision to go to university as it was the right path for myself and the course, I studied has opened up a great career path.
I would also advise them to consider geospatial engineering especially if you are considering studying geography. It's a degree which has great graduate prospects, a very thought-provoking and interesting subject matter, and has a range of industries that you could go into which are developing and growing all the time. You also are supported throughout the course from all the staff and with the number of practicals alongside the lectures and seminars, you gain a lot of contact time within the course.