How can I do more coding while still using my Civil Engineering skills?
May 23, 2014 11:45 AM   Subscribe

I want to make mapping and programming a bigger part of my work, while still using my background in water resources. What are some career options that might give me that opportunity?

I did my BS and MS in civil engineering and have worked for 6 years in the water resources field (rivers/streams, flooding, geomorphology). It has included a decent amount of modeling (hydrologic, hydraulic, snow, some meteorologic), processing field data, GIS analysis, and data processing. My programming background is mostly Python, since it integrates well with ArcGIS and has lots of useful tools for scientific programming. There's also been some MATLAB, Perl, FORTRAN, Perl, and R mixed in there. I wouldn't call myself an expert at any of these, but I'm fairly competent with Python.

GIS is one of my strengths, and I'm interested in all the tools that have made mapping on the web easier. I also like data visualization and finding ways to communicate information clearly and accurately to people. I love interactive web tools and making little scripts to help out with my daily work (modifying model files, scraping GPS metadata from photos, batch producing plots, etc).

A lot of the programming related to my field seems tied up in either government (big data warehouses, gov't-developed models, gov't studies) or larger private firms that develop complex models or application suites. I don't really want to go into full-blown C++ programming for 2D hydraulic models or anything like that. Any ideas for what else I might be able to do? Is there any way I could turn this into my own business? It doesn't seem like there are a ton of freelance hydrologists out in the world, unless you're a PhD doing specialty consulting. I'm in Seattle if that helps --- plenty of tech and water stuff happening.

Or, do I switch over to web programming of maps and data viz and find a more indirect way to integrate my engineering background?

posted by yukonho to Work & Money (1 answer total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Python + GIS + civil engineering? Sounds like you could develop some kick-ass QGIS plugins. Alternatively, if the web stuff talks to you more, check out some of (MeFi's Own®) tmcw's projects. The sheer volume of tools and projects that Tom puts out for web mapping is staggering, so you're going to find something engaging there that you can modify/extend/break/be (confused|amazed) by/...
posted by scruss at 3:47 PM on May 23, 2014

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