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Take a break with Sam McDonald, Senior Consultant at 1Spatial Australia

Tell us about yourself?

I am an Electronic/Biomedical Engineer who has been working with 1Spatial as a Senior Consultant for two years. Prior to my transition into the GIS industry five years ago, I used to maintain and service medical equipment. I grew up in Glenrowan, a small town in Victoria, Australia. For those who have not heard of it, I generally say “The place with the big Ned Kelly statue”. I am married with a toddler son and infant daughter, who are a joy to be around and keep me on my toes during my personal time.

Fun fact about you?

A hobby that I have (when time permits) is game development. It resonates with me as a means of fusing storytelling, artistic design, and technical skills. Giving people the ability to interact with the story you are trying to tell gives it an entirely different dynamic.

What do you enjoy most about working at 1Spatial?

The people and environment. 1Spatial Australia has a great collection of staff who are easy to work with. The Services team that I am part of consists of inciteful and knowledgeable people and provides a good environment for technical discussion. There is a relaxed atmosphere in the company, with events such as our end-of-week ‘Happy Half Hour’ providing entertainment at the end of the week.

What’s your favourite transformer and why?

I could joke and say the custom transformer, as these are always what I want them to be. The custom transformers are wonderful options for compiling functional blocks and making them easily re-usable. However, for an out of the box transformer, I would say the FeatureReader is my favourite currently. It leverages one of FME’s best features, the sheer number of formats supported.

On top of that, it has built-in options for merging and filtering, and can be used at any point in a workflow.

What’s the most interesting data challenge you’ve tackled?

The most interesting data challenge I have tackled relates to biosignals. During my honour’s year of my engineering degree, I resolved to build a 3D prosthetic hand as a proof of concept that the technology could be cheap and highly available. As part of this project, I monitored muscular biosignals, a technique known as Electromyography (EMG). Having to isolate noise and errors in the signals, identify movements and muscle groups, and translate this to movements of my prosthetic remains one of the most interesting and challenging data challenges I have ever faced.

How long have you been working with FME?

I have been working with FME for 5 years now. I started out with FME Desktop, building automated processes for MapInfo files related to telecommunications infrastructure. From that foundation, I have gone on to apply it to many different practices and industries, including aeronautical, meteorological and bushfire data. Additionally, I have been working with FME Server for the last 2 years now, utilising it to integrate my workflows with enterprise integration patterns and present easy-to-access self-service portals. I have also been the accredited trainer for 1Spatial for the last 6 months, tailoring and providing the training material related to FME Desktop and FME Server.

 What do you love about FME?

The most significant thing that I love about FME is the ease of access it provides for all users. I do not know another GIS orientated solution that makes it as easy to get started and is as intuitive as FME. I have personally found that a lot of ‘codeless’ solutions typically come with their own deficits, but FME seems to be the exception to this. It offers a lot of power and versatility, all through an easy and intuitive user interface.

What makes 1Spatial a great place to work?

Working for 1Spatial Australia provides the opportunity to learn and grow in the GIS industry. This opportunity occurs in an environment that is flexible, understanding and diverse.

If you were given an airline ticket to go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

If I were given an airline ticket to go anywhere, I would like to go straight up! I would really love to take the Zero-G Experience, which involves a modified Boeing 727 flying in parabolic arcs to create a weightless environment. For a destination located on the ground, my choice would be Iceland. It is a gorgeous country, and I would love to experience the culture, weather (I love the cold) and their energy production (almost exclusively Hydropower and Geothermal).

Interested in FME training? Take a look at all of our up-coming FME courses and register your interest.

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