DMP officer wins top academic honour

Reward for geospatial excellence linked to HMAS Sydney project.
Date: Monday, 27 October 2014

Postgraduate of the Year award goes to Department of Mines and Petroleum geospatial officer. 

Twin passions for scuba diving and geospatial science combined to help Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) officer Carolyn Martin win one of Western Australia’s most prestigious academic honours.

Carolyn’s project on photogrammetric mapping of underwater shipwrecks won her the Postgraduate Student Award at the 2014 WA Spatial Excellence Awards held last month at the University of WA.

She was judged by peers to have achieved professional excellence in a research project that advances the surveying and spatial field.

As part of her project she proved that the popular GoPro camera provided better photogrammetric results than much more expensive and bulky Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras.

“It is cheaper, simpler, and was able to capture larger datasets more efficiently,” Carolyn said.

“It was particularly rewarding after being told by several academics that the camera wouldn’t work and then being able to prove that it did.”

As a result, the camera will now be one of the photogrammetric tools used as part of the HMAS Sydney Project to capture high-resolution 3D stereoscopic images of the wrecks of the famous Australian cruiser and her nemesis, the German raider Kormoran.

Both ships sank off the Western Australia coast in World War II after a fierce naval battle in 1941.
The WA Spatial Excellence Awards could be described as the “Oscars” of the geospatial industry and are co-hosted by the Survey and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI) and Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA).

SSSI is the primary national body catering for spatial information industry professionals and SIBA is the industry’s peak representative body for Australia and New Zealand.

Both of DMP’s premier spatial systems – TENGRAPH and GeoVIEW.WA – have previously won spatial system excellence awards from SSSI and SIBA.

The winner of each State’s Postgraduate Student Award is automatically nominated for the national award, which will be presented in Brisbane next March as part of the Locate 2015 conference.

This means Carolyn is in line for national prominence in her chosen field.

She has also chalked up another important tick in her career, when she completed a demanding 18 months of combined work and study to be awarded last month with her Masters in Geospatial Science from Curtin University.

“It was really, really hard to study and work at the same time, but the study leave helped a lot,” Carolyn said.

The award and her Masters are two rewarding milestones on a career road that started back in 2001 at the front desk of the Department of Mines and Energy in Darwin.

“I had just started there and was working at the front counter for one week before someone said ‘you seem to be pretty cluey about mapping, how’d you like to be a charting officer’?,” Carolyn recalled.

It was the beginning of a career that next took her to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in Queensland and now DMP, where she has worked for about four years.

Carolyn said that her time in the department had been the most rewarding in her career.

“The people I work with are great,” she said. The camaraderie is brilliant and I really value the support I have been given.”