Photogrammetric Technologist

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Photogrammetric Technologist


If you are planning on driving from Seattle to Boston, chances are you will need a road map. If you are interested in the proximity between Amsterdam and New Delhi, consulting a map or atlas will help answer your questions. But how are maps actually made, especially when it comes to tracing difficult terrain and overseas travel? One method is to use a mapping technique called photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the science of measurement with light, which produces photographic induced maps. Photogrammetric technologists are map makers who prepare and revise maps, air routes, sea floors and marine navigation routes using photographs. An aerial photographer takes a series of photographs from an aircraft of an area that is to be mapped and photogrammetric technologists then measure, map, and chart the Earths surface using these photographs. The result is the creation of a two-dimensional map from three-dimensional data.

Photogrammetry emerged in the 1930s and was revolutionary in the map making practice of that decade. Using aerial photographs, cartographers could from then on make better and more accurate world maps. Once the photos are ready, the photogrammetric technologist puts the pictures in an instrument called a plotter, which enables one to trace landscape features from a three-dimensional model of the Earth's surface created by viewing airphotos stereoscopically. Photogrammetry is mainly used in areas that are inaccessible, difficult or less cost-efficient to survey by other methods.

Photogrammetry is now falling behind the pace of technology, becoming a traditional method of mapping. Due to the extensive use of geographic information systems (GIS), the work and role of photogrammetric technologists is changing because of these rapid advancements in technology. A new type of mapping scientist has emerged replacing the older, more traditional map maker. Nevertheless, photogrammetry is still an important method that helps map out the GIS.

When drafting a map, photogrammetric technologists must decide what information is important to include and how to convey it clearly and accurately. Once all compulsory information has been compiled, the photogrammetric technologist will create a rough draft that includes what will actually appear on the map. They may research old maps, use old aerial photographs or satellite images in order to distinguish between oceans and rivers, highways and country lanes, power lines and underground pipelines and anything else important and relevant to the production of the map. When all of this information has been settled upon, the photogrammetric technologist will design the final copy and oversee the printing process to make sure it is free from errors.

Photogrammetric technologists in large companies usually work with a team of surveyors, cartographers, engineers and others; working on projects together. Those who work in smaller companies tend to meet with clients, contractors and other professionals. In accordance with rapidly changing technology, photogrammetrists are required to update their computer and general knowledge skills and become experts in GIS.
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  Interests and Skills  
Photogrammetric technologists have an aptitude for mathematics, including the ability to think visually about geometric forms. They use complex photographic instruments and highly advanced GIS programs, and they must also have good technical and artistic drawing skills. They should have an eye for detail and be able to edit their work for mistakes.

Photogrammetric technologists should be knowledgeable in topographical features, infrastructure and boundaries. Lastly, they should be able to work and communicate with a number of different workers and also work independently.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Examine and interpret aerial photographs to prepare topographic maps, aerial-photograph mosaics and related charts
  • Operate stereoscopic plotting and computer graphics equipment to provide three-dimensional optical models of terrain, to trace maps, and to prepare charts and tables.
  • Use aerial photography to collect information about specific features of the earth
  • Prepare original maps, charts and drawings of inaccessible areas from aerial photographs and survey data
  • Prepare mosaic prints, contour maps, profile sheets and related cartographic material applying mastery of photogrammetric techniques and principles
  • Direct the overall planning and development of mapping projects
  • Determine aerial photographic requirements and the type of acquisition and plotting equipment to be used
  • Determine the aerial photography and remote sensing techniques and computer software needed to meet the required standards of accuracy
  • Generate maps based on the information collected
  • Apply mathematical formulas and photogrammetric techniques to identify, scale and orient the size and shape of various topographic features
  • Lay out and match aerial photographs in sequence taken, looking for missing areas
  • Photogrammetric technologists spend the majority of their time in offices, working over draft tables or on the computer. They rarely visit the sites they are mapping or go into the air to take photographs. Most photogrammetric technologists work standard eight-hour days or 40-hour weeks. Evening and weekend work is rare, except when important deadlines approach. Those who are self-employed usually have less regulated schedules and their work depends on how many clients they have.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Photogrammetric technologists work in the public and private sectors. They are employed by government departments of transportation, surveying and mapping, private mapping companies, survey firms, engineering firms, remote sensing companies, geographic information companies, computer software companies and other related establishments.

  Long Term Career Potential  
What does the future hold for photogrammetric technologists? Since boundary lines are constantly changing and countries change names on account of war, there will always be jobs for photogrammetric technologists. However, in order to keep up with the speed of technology, they must learn GIS. Experienced photogrammetric technologists could translate their artistic and computer skills into graphic design careers or illustrating careers.

Some who like outdoor work may consider going into engineering technology, doing survey work and technical field work. Those with years of experience and education could also teach photogrammetry or cartography at a community college or university.

  Educational Paths  
The compulsory educational requirements for a photogrammetric technologists consist of a diploma in photogrammetric technology or cartography. It is also possible to take courses related to photogrammetry from the geography departments of many universities. Some school programs offer internships, which are valuable in helping gain experience and make contacts.

A background in computer science is useful, since most photogrammetric technologists today use advanced computer-mapping programs. Finally, one may consider taking business courses since many are self-employed and own their own companies.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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