Life as an Intern at 2Excel Geo

An insight into what life is like working for 2Excel Geo.

by | Jan 27, 2020 | Company News

Loreena Jaouen

Geospatial Analyst at 2Excel geo

 

Loreena has an MSc in Remote Sensing and Environmental Mapping from University College London (UCL) and a BSc in Natural Sciences (Biology and Physical Geography) from Durham University. She has experience in both optical and SAR remote sensing, including image processing, multi-temporal change detection and image classification. Loreena has a particular interest in conservation, environmental monitoring and landscape management.

 

Last summer, I had the chance to join the 2Excel Geo team for an 8-week placement as part of the SPIN program managed by the UK Space Agency. This program enables students or recent graduates to develop their professional skills while working with others within the Space sector. This opportunity proved invaluable for giving my career a kickstart following on from my post-graduate studies.

When I started my internship, I was a Masters student in Remote Sensing and Environmental Mapping at UCL in the midst of my final project write-up. I was concerned that I would struggle to fit my placement and university project in a single summer. However, the SPIN program provided me with flexibility in choosing my start date, providing that the placement was completed by mid-September. A quick chat with my supervisor at 2Excel Geo, Dr Chloe Barnes, enabled me to shift the start date to mid-July to better accommodate my university work.

What drew me to 2Excel Geo was the chance to experience the entire remote sensing cycle from data collection, through processing and analysis, all the way to ground-truthing and final delivery. 2Excel Geo is part of a larger aviation company called 2Excel Aviation based in three locations: Lasham, Doncaster and Sywell. Access to aircrafts and pilots allows the company to collect data where and when it is required, while 2Excel engineers can modify aircrafts to accommodate specialised sensors. 2Excel Geo has expertise in hyperspectral remote sensing and focuses on environmental issues and challenges, particularly in the forestry and conservation sectors. This makes for a unique and interesting blend, providing opportunities such as automated, large-scale tree health and species mapping. Having no previous experience in hyperspectral remote sensing, there was a steep learning curve and it took some time to adjust to the sheer volume of data but the hard-work was well worth it.

Figure 1

Ground truthing with the Field Spec Dual from ASD.

Figure 1

Ground truthing with the Field Spec Dual from ASD.

2Excel Geo is a small team based at the aerodrome in Sywell, a small village in Northamptonshire surrounded by fields of sheep and stone walls. Being in Sywell for the summer was definitely a treat. The office is fairly remote and having a driving license is always a welcomed plus (which I didn’t have), but this shouldn’t stop anyone commuting in the summer months. I found a lovely Airbnb host and her 8-month old cocker-poodle in the nearby village of Mears Ashby, a mere 25-minute walk to the office through hilly fields, or a 10-minute bike ride.

The walk was ideal to clear my mind before a day of work and taking a step back from challenges. Many solutions to tricky problems were found on these daily outings. The aerodrome is also linked to Northampton and Kettering via daily bus routes, although the times are infrequent and may not coincide with traditional office hours. However, 2Excel Geo operates flexible working hours, meaning that you can fit your work hours around the bus schedule. 

Figure 2

The 2Excel Blades in formation.

Figure 2

The 2Excel Blades in formation

The aerodrome is a buzzing place in the summer, and I was lucky to witness all sorts of aircrafts landing and taking off, including Ospreys and Spitfires, in addition to watching the 2Excel Blades training for aerobatic airshows. Food-wise, the Aviator hotel has its own pub and an M&S van visits us every morning with heart-warming music. Beckworth Emporium, an indoor market with local products and delicious cakes which turns its car park into an ice-skating rink in the winter is just around the corner, a 5-minute car ride away. The summer is also synonymous of the ice-cream van and I may have eaten too many during my placement.

The friendly, open and incredibly supportive nature of the team meant that I quickly felt comfortable. I was valued and trusted with work from the very beginning. For the purpose of my project, I met up with staff from the RSPB to collaborate on solutions to heathland monitoring and experienced a combination of office and outdoor work, including field spectroscopy in the beautiful Sandy RSPB nature reserve.

All in all, it was a tough but remarkably rewarding and invaluable summer in a stimulating environment. I highly recommend it to anyone wishing to combine ecology and remote sensing (you even get to learn about the aviation industry).

You can read more about Loreena’s internship project with the RSPB here.

Hall Farm 2
Sywell Aerodrome, Sywell
Northamptonshire, NN6 0BN

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