Revolutionary product developments, driven by the close relationships we have with our customers, are at the heart of OxTS. This approach caught the attention of a significant number of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers when OxTS began – many of whom are still loyal customers today. And in more recent years, many survey and mapping professionals and autonomous developers have also found OxTS to be a strong and supportive partner. Exceptional engineers make OxTS possible. Here OxTS Product Engineer, Jonathan Deacon, shares a ‘day in his life’:
1. How long have you worked at OxTS, and what led you to this career?
I joined OxTS as a fresh-faced Mechanical Engineering graduate in September 2021. Initially joining the Support team, I have just moved over to the Commercial department to take up a role as a Product Engineer. I can’t say I thought I would be working in inertial navigation this time twelve months ago. At university my main interests were supersonic flows and power generation! But I always liked dealing with data using programs like MATLAB – and that’s the aspect of the job that attracted me to OxTS. We LOVE data here.
2. What does a ‘day in your life’ as OxTS Product Engineer involve?
I’m afraid I’m going to have to give one of those “I don’t have a typical day” answers – but it’s true and that’s why I like it ! I am responsible for Surveying and Mapping product development. I speak to current and prospective customers in the market daily and then use these insights to scope our product roadmap. OxTS Georeferencer is what I’m spending a lot of my time thinking about right now. A fantastic piece of software developed by my predecessors; it’s a real market leader in terms of functionality and usability. The development work we have lined up for the coming months is tremendously exciting. On the hardware side, our Survey-focused INS devices are my other concern. The Survey+ and xNAV650 INS devices have been well received by customers already, but at OxTS we are always driving for more and the developments coming soon with our gx/ix algorithm, LiDAR aiding and IMU technology will push the quality of data we can produce to the next level.
3. What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
Looking back, I’m most proud of running our exhibition stand at the GeoWeek conference in Denver, Colorado, US. Unfortunately covid-related circumstances reduced the number of OxTS employees able to be there. Kudos to Franck from Navtech GPS who joined me and provided additional expert support for our stand visitors. Ten minutes after arriving at the convention centre to set up the stand, I got invited to deliver the opening presentation of the conference after a competitor pulled out. I accepted the offer and proceeded to give a quarter of an hour’s worth of content ‘off the top of my head’ to a room of a few hundred people. It’s fair to say I’m looking forward to my first *prepared* presentation with OxTS in May at GeoBusiness in London.
4. What’s been your greatest challenge as an OxTS Product Engineer, and how have you overcome this?
I think the hardest part of working here is learning the technology – it’s phenomenal and ever evolving. It’s such a niche field with so many innovations occurring on an almost daily basis, it’s hard to keep up, let alone get a foothold on the whole industry. The only way to overcome this is by having the ability to converse regularly with senior colleagues. Not a week goes by where I don’t chew the ear of a Senior Engineer to discuss some technology or innovation. Some of my colleagues have brains the size of planets and thanks must go to them for being so accessible.
5. What’s the best thing about being part of the OxTS team?
OxTS is ambitious, but still maintains a family feel. Just the other day I was talking to one of the founders in the kitchen about a prototype product he had cobbled together at home. Anyone can talk to anyone and there’s a real appetite to share knowledge. We are seen as innovators in what we do and it’s easy to see why once you’ve started here. The Engineering Department isn’t too dissimilar from a university research group such is the level of creativity flying about. I also don’t think I could have found a company with better opportunity to travel and develop. I’ve been here seven months and I’ve already been trusted to run an exhibition stand as well as change department and job role.
6. What would we most likely find you doing at the weekend?
I’m a long-suffering supporter of Norwich City Football Club; therefore, you’ll likely find me trapsing round the country in a yellow and green scarf most Saturdays looking dejected come 5 pm (at least this season!). But it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m a cold craft beer enthusiast, so come 8 pm I’m usually happy again. My Sunday revolves around the precise crafting of the traditional Sunday Roast. I’m a whizz at Cauliflower Cheese and king of the Roast Potato. (Top tip for perfect tatties: its all in the drying/fluffing phase after you’ve boiled them).
7. What’s next for you in your role as OxTS Product Engineer?
I’m raring to get out more and see our products being used all over the world for interesting applications. Being confined to a desk at home during covid was challenging as we are such a global company. Closer to home, we are really ramping up development of our Survey proposition in the next twelve months and that’s something I am excited to lead some of the commercial activity on. Workflow and other improvements are going to make OxTS Georeferencer an even more irresistible tool for any surveyor, while our revolutionary work on navigation performance in poor GNSS and GNSS-denied environments continues to support our promise to enable customers to ‘navigate anywhere’. I feel like I’ve joined the business (and the industry as a whole) as we approach the crest of a wave, and I cannot wait to surf it into shore!
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