Wider Horizons


Riley Smith (Geomatics Engineering Technology 2011)

With no technical plans or maps to guide him when he started out, Riley Smith (Geomatics Engineering Technology 2011) has navigated his way to a rewarding career.

The lifelong southern Albertan had jumped straight into university directly after high school, but he quickly realized it was not the right fit. A chance encounter with a Lethbridge College viewbook provided insight into a new opportunity. Smith had always loved math, science, maps and the outdoors, and so the study of geomatics caught his eye.

“I remember telling people what I was studying, and no one understood what it was which is why I feel an importance to educate the world on the profession.” Smith says of his field, which is also known as engineering or geospatial science, and is focused on gathering, storing, processing, and delivering geographic or spatially referenced information. “People benefit from geomatics engineering technology every day and they don’t even know it. Even the GPS in your phone wouldn’t be possible without it. I love how broad this industry is. There are no limits to where geomatics can take you.”

After graduating from the college, Smith worked in the surveying and geomatics field for five years, becoming a Survey Field Supervisor after just 2½ years. “Lethbridge College provided me with the tools and skills to gain a variety of experience and have a rewarding surveying career,” he says.

He then decided to take another stab at university and headed to the University of New Brunswick to earn a Bachelor of Science in Geomatics Engineering and a diploma in technology, management and entrepreneurship. After graduation, Smith joined Trimble Inc., an industrial technology company.

“Trimble is considered one of the pinnacle technology providers in the survey and mapping industry. They provided many of the products and tools we used as students. I’m honoured to have the opportunity to have and grow a career at Trimble,” says Smith. “They did a recruiting trip to my university, and I was motivated to make a bigger impact in the geomatics industry. I looked at Trimble as an avenue for me to help create better technology for all of the survey and geomatics professionals out there (and I used to be one of them!), so I took a chance and applied.

“My career with Trimble has taken me around the world,” he adds. “My first internship set me up for a long-term career at Trimble, where I could grow into where I am today. Not only did I expand my knowledge in engineering, but I also learned marketing, communications and sales. After that, not only was I hooked, but I changed my entire career path.”

Smith had planned on going the traditional land surveying route, but instead, he took on the role of product manager and was recently promoted to Marketing Director of Monitoring and Tunnelling groups based at Trimble’s Westminster, Colo., office. He manages teams all around the world, which he says is one of the many exciting parts of his job.

“I get to go out and meet the people doing amazing things in industry,” he says. “From construction workers, to surveyors, to engineers and everything in between, I get to talk to them and learn how we can improve their operations, then use this information to work with brilliant engineering teams to create and develop technology which transforms the way the industry works. It’s all about getting to see the positive impact Trimble technology has around the world.”

“I often tell people who are interested in the industry to look at programs like the one at Lethbridge College because it’s a great combination of theory and application that can kick-start someone into a lucrative career,”

Riley Smith

Smith’s experience has taught him many things, but what truly motivates him is not just being an engineer but getting to wear many hats – planner, innovator and leader. He combines that with a mix of experience, passion, education and a desire to change the world.

“I often tell people who are interested in the industry to look at programs like the one at Lethbridge College because it’s a great combination of theory and application that can kick-start someone into a lucrative career,” he says. “The instructors have also been influential in my career, and not just during my time at the college. I’ve been lucky to continue those relationships with them. The college is where my career started, and I couldn’t be happier with where I’ve been and where it’s going.”

Wider Horizons
Story and photo by Stephanie Savage
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