Geomatics, the technical challenge I was looking for

Vera Stevers, Dutch
Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences at Delft University of Technology

After my bachelor in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences I wanted to do something more technical. I did a specialisation in urban management and sustainability. Although I liked it, it didn’t challenge me enough. Furthermore, I wanted to learn how to programme and use GIS software. In the architectural field GIS software skills are wanted and I was interested in it as well. Starting Geomatics in the Built Environment coming from a bachelor without in-depth mathematics, geography or programming was a challenge, but Geomatics is incredibly interesting and useful in urban management. This really motivated me to put in the effort to make it work.

Geomatics in the Built Environment is unique because it focuses on processing data. You combine both geographies with computer science to analyse, for example, how the atmosphere interacts with a building. Or you can model how an urban area will deal with wind, wet, dry and hot periods. I imagine Geomatics to be the connection between the architect and the engineer who are both needed for the same project.

Within Geomatics there is a strong social bond between students. If you are absent for a few days, friends will check on you. You cooperate a lot in assignments which allowed us to learn from each other.

With a bachelor’s degree in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences it won’t be easy to do Geomatics, but if you want a more technical master and you are eager to learn how to model cities and landscapes, it is doable. I would recommend gaining some experience in programming and linear algebra before you start the Geomatics programme. After my master's I would like to work for municipalities to use my knowledge for urban design and sustainability.   

Transform boring data into meaningful knowledge

Konstantinos Mastorakis, Greece
Bachelor + Master Rural and Surveying Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens

After my studies, I wanted to broaden my knowledge. I did an exchange abroad and that convinced me to continue studying abroad. I looked at multiple geoscience masters in Europe, which have major differences. In Delft, I liked the focus on geo-data analysis and visualisation. My studies were a good preparation for Geomatics.

Geomatics in the Built Environment is not just a master, it is much more. In Delft, there is a focus on putting theory into practice. This sounds easy, but it is quite a challenge. Teamwork is extremely important. Just about every assignment, of which there are a lot, is done in groups. Instead of using existing tools, Geomatics focusses on creating new tools to create unique solutions. This makes the master quite technical in the geoscience field. Another strong point is the collaboration with companies. There are a lot of guest lectures, networking events and the programme has a lot of contacts with companies. At last, I learned to be confident in what I do, respect deadlines and that fellow student’s opinion provide food for thought.

I was well prepared, but it remains challenging. From day one the master has a quick pace. Because of this I had to go out of my comfort zone and had the chance to learn a lot in a short period of time, not only the theory but also soft skills. Looking back, I notice that I have improved my skills a lot, even in skills I did not know I had! 

After this master, I would like to work within the field of smart cities and convert boring data into accessible valuable information. Working on a single inclusive system which holds all information about the city and is accessible for anyone who needs it.

Creating tools to solve real world problems

Imke Lansky, Dutch
Computer science at the University of Amsterdam

After my bachelor in computer science, I travelled and started a job in cybersecurity. After a year, I decided I didn’t want to continue my career. I started looking at TU Delft and found the master Geomatics in the Built Environment. Geomatics allowed me to apply my programming background to a physical world.

The theory from the courses is often applied in assignments. Most of the assignments use programming languages such as Python to put theory into practice. Because I didn’t have a geoscience background, the theory was more of a challenge than the implementation in Python. For students with a geoscience background, programming was a bigger challenge. What I like with Geomatics, is that we create tools to solve real-world problems. Programming gives me more satisfaction now that the cases are so relatable.

I really like that the students have very diverse backgrounds in both culture and education. We are learning so much from each other. The groups are small and we help each other to get the most out of Geomatics.

Geomatics has opened a door for me, helping me to use my programming skills in a meaningful way. I now enjoy programming much more and I am interested in a future career in geodata science.

Understanding the GIS black box to create your own

Felix Dahle, German
Bachelor: IT engineering and business at the Steinbeis University Berlin & Geography at the University of Wurzburg

With my two bachelor degrees, I knew I wanted to do a master abroad where I could combine the knowledge from both. The German Remote Sensing Association recommended me the Geomatics master in Delft and I was quickly convinced. I liked the city, it is close to the sea and TU Delft is a highly respected university. Geomatics in the Built Environment was a logical next step. Because it combines both my bachelors, I was well prepared and it was possible for me to have a side job as well.

I already knew about remote sensing and data collection systems, but through Geomatics, I learned considerably more about the analysis of geographic data using a large variety of algorithms. Instead of using predefined functions in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), we create our own tools. You look inside the black box instead of only using existing algorithm. This means you understand, create, and improve them. I really like this mixture of IT with the physical world.

Geomatics turned out to be quite technical and there are many deadlines, which really motivated me to keep up. You get a lot of responsibility, no mandatory attendance or filled out agendas, you have to plan it yourself. The groups are small, which allowed me to quickly make friends. The group assignments stimulated me to collaborate, too. The resulting informal, cooperative culture is substantiated by the teachers, who are very accessible and willing to help.

After my master Geomatics in the Built Environment, I am pursuing a PhD to explore the use of machine learning to solve geoscience problems. I can see myself working on automatic object detection or automated digital visualisation of buildings. The career perspective is amazing: there are diverse job opportunities, and it is even possible to start your own company within this field.

Giving a broad perspective for your future career

Liyao Zhang, Chinese
Remote sensing technology at Wuhan University

I wanted to do a master in Europe where I would also learn programming. I found that TU Delft’s Geomatics for the built environment is very up to date. You learn about modern technologies that are not only currently used, but also technologies that will be used in the future. Also, the skills you learn from Geomatics can be applied in many fields of work.

With Geomatics there is a lot to learn, the lectures cover a lot of subjects and everybody has to work hard to pass the courses. Passing it gives a lot of satisfaction. There are many deadlines and fewer scheduled lectures. In the beginning, it was a challenge for me to manage my time and finish the assignments. Now I am much better at planning my day. Of all the courses, I enjoyed the Synthesis project the most. In this course, you work in a group on a project provided by a company, supported by the teachers. Especially in this course, I learned a lot about working with people from other cultures as well.

The acquired skills can be used in many fields. It has broadened my horizon. I found another way of studying and learned a lot from working with foreign students.

In the future, I would like to become an algorithmic engineer, preferably related to GIS and work at a large internet company in China.