EO: the next generation

On the 13th March I attended the RSPSoc Wavelength 2018 conference. This is a student and young professional conference, held annually in different locations around the country and hosted by the RSPSoc Student representative for a given year (along with the shadow rep, ready for the next year). This year the conference was held in Sheffield.

Last year I attended the same conference (held in Kingston-upon-Thames) and gave a presentation about career options and what it’s like to work in different types of organisation, based on my experiences. As part of the presentation, I asked for some audience participation! That must have gone down well, because I was asked to Sheffield to give the same presentation.

What I then realised was that I’d be able make a few comparisons between the two events. I accept that this is non scientific, with a self-selecting audience and small sample sizes, but the following points might be of interest….

First off, I asked about the type of organisation that those present might want to work in once their student days were over. From the chart below, it seems that the 2018 audience was much more interested in pursuing a post-doctoral position, whereas those at last year’s presentation were keen to work for smaller companies. Government, it seems, is a workplace of interest across both years.


For a bit of fun I wanted to know whether the audience thought of themselves as a generalist or a specialist. To be honest, I was expecting the majority to state that they were specialists because of their PhD studies, but I suppose (thinking back) a doctoral degree throws all sorts at you and develops multiple personal skills.

chart (1)

The final question is one that I find interesting – what software do you use for your Earth Observation studies/work? I’m particularly curious to see whether the next generation is heavily using open-source or proprietary products – it seems there is a pretty balanced mix. The results for each year are presented in the following word clouds, but in particular I note the rise of SNAP and the persistence of Python.

Screenshot from 2018-03-19 13-59-28
2017 Software usage
Screenshot from 2018-03-19 14-05-25
2018 Software Usage


This is just a bit of fun, and the results are specific to the crowd from which they were collected, but I think it is also an interesting look at the next generation of remote sensing practitioners and a short survey might be something that future Wavelength convenors want to add to the conference, just to see what trends might emerge.