Transitioning from Industry to Graduate School

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Graduate Student Profile

Max Salman, Earth and Environmental Sciences, MSc Geophysics

max salmanFlying 200 feet above ground in 32-degree weather, 60 per cent humidity and the hot sun radiating through the Piper Navajo windshield was a typical day for Max Salman, who was a pilot for airborne geophysical surveyors.  

Salman obtained his commercial pilot license after completing his undergraduate degree in Geology in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department.

While observing the physical and geochemical parameters of Guyana, Nicaragua and Canada’s landscapes, Salman noticed setbacks in current measurement methods and saw the leverage that further research into these obstacles could produce.

Salman wanted to further his credentials and develop methods he could bring back to the field so he returned to university to pursue a master’s program. His goal was to create a more efficient means of surveying land and determine how it could affect the greatest population.

He enrolled in a research paper based master’s, specializing in Geophysics under the supervision of Professor Tony Endres.

"A project-based master’s is developing something that could be used forever," says Salman.

max and helicopterWith increased demand in mass production and seasonal restraints, the agricultural industry has little room for error. Salman’s research used gamma ray spectrometry and drones to benefit precision agriculture. Drones were used to create mosaics for a green density index.

To analyze the health of crops, gamma ray spectrometry counts energy chemicals picked up throughout the fields and determines saturated potassium (fertilizer) levels. This process gives a more direct reading as too much fertilizer will negatively affect surrounding groundwater and too little fertilizer inhibits crop growth.

Salman hopes his research will help showcase and inform companies of the beneficial use that gamma ray spectrometry and drones can have on the agricultural industry. Beyond farming, this method will also benefit large-scale drilling companies by improving accuracy when navigating focal drilling points.     

"You want to be in a field that helps people make money," says Salman.

airway runwayTravelling internationally for conference presentations, Salman found that his background from working in industry has been beneficial. In addition to possessing skills of adaptability and familiarity with demanding environments, he utilized knowledge gained from employers to successfully translate research terminology into communications that will sell ideas to clients.

Recently comax in boatmpleting his master’s degree, Salman aims to eventually broaden his research beyond gamma ray spectrometry and continue building credentials with a doctoral degree. In the meantime, he remains involved with numerous campus social activities and is teaching the Field Methods in Hydrogeology (EARTH458L) course. 

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