Two years ago, Mona Earle was working as an offshore surveyor in Brazil’s oil and gas sector and making plans to continue her education.
The spring graduate’s original four-year plan? Pursue an ocean mapping master’s degree part time while continuing to work offshore. The pandemic unexpectedly shortened her timetable.
Initially, pandemic restrictions and remote classes made it easier to study, especially as work slowed down. When in-person classes started last fall, she decided to resign her job and study full time from her home in Torbay.
“I went from being crazy busy to having all kinds of time,” said Ms. Earle. “It worked out well in the end.”
She officially graduates next week with her master’s degree in applied ocean technology (ocean mapping), offered by the Marine Institute’s School of Ocean Technology.
Ms. Earle is among the first graduates of the new program.
Finding her niche
“I went back to school because I was really interested in mapping and data processing,” she said. “By shifting into the ocean mapping role, I’ll have both survey and mapping abilities, so I’ll be more transferrable in the work I can do and advance my career.”
The program also led to a summer job as an application tester and hydrographic data processor with an ocean supercluster project led by Teledyne CARIS, a marine mapping software developer.
“It was an excellent learning experience and gave me an opportunity to find my niche.”
Teledyne leads five partners, including the Marine Institute, in the project to develop software for remote operations survey processing.
“We were testing how effective data processing would be over a cloud platform. It was an excellent learning experience and gave me an opportunity to find my niche.”
Originally from St. Lunaire-Griquet, N.L., Ms. Earle completed a three-year diploma in geomatics engineering technology at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) in 2012.
As an offshore surveyor, she provided real-time positioning and navigation guidance for the deployment of structures on the seabed, installing pipelines and cables, and supporting dive and salvage operations. The job took her to the Gulf of Mexico, Trinidad, Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela.
Her decade of experience, academic credentials in geomatics and recommendations from work and CNA ensured her eligibility for the master’s program.
New Orleans volunteer
During the last two years of her geomatics program, Ms. Earle volunteered for rebuild projects in New Orleans, after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Supported by the Fry Family Foundation, students repaired homes, renovated a daycare, installed concrete walkways and conducted initial land survey work in the city’s Broadmore district.
“At that time, there were still entire neighborhoods with barely a habitable house within them. Working on these projects was an amazing experience.”
Since finalizing her master’s work in April, Ms. Earle has attended a few job interviews and is taking some time to decide her best career path. She says it likely includes working offshore from her home base in the province.
“I love it here — this is home. I’ve made the decision that I’m going to do everything in my power to stay here. It would be great to get a job with a combination of field work and data processing. I like the variety of different kinds of work.”