– Charlie Dalton doesn’t see many like them in the STEM world, so they feel it’s important for them to be “that person” for others coming up in those sectors and to help their communities.
The Office of Applied Research and Innovation intern at College of the North Atlantic (CNA), who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them, is also a graduate of the college’s Geomatics/Surveying Engineering Technology (Co-op) program. They visited Ottawa in late 2022 to attend CICan on the Hill + Student Showcase – a two-day event that provides an opportunity for educational leaders to engage with parliamentarians.
During the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) showcase, leaders share perspectives on how their organizations can help address labour shortages, improve innovation and productivity, advance reconciliation, and help facilitate a transition to a net-zero economy, which is typically defined as the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.
Dalton attended the event to present research they did while working at CNA.
“It was a great experience to be able to officially present work that I am proud of,” said Dalton.
Dr. Michael Long, Dean of Applied Research & Innovation at CNA and Dalton’s supervisor, recognizes their abilities and sees a bright future ahead.
“Charlie is extraordinary both as a person and as a research intern,” said Long. “When this opportunity first arose, Charlie was first with their hand up! At this early stage in their career, Charlie already has that curiosity for technology and attention to data quality that any employer would love to see.”
Dalton’s research was completed on behalf of Fabled Copper Corporation, a mining company based in British Columbia.
The company wanted to revive a mine that was initially developed in the 1960s, but was never opened. They needed an accurate representation of the underground infrastructure before they could move ahead with their project.
Dalton’s job was to travel to British Columbia and scan the interior of one of the mining drifts (a term to describe a horizontal mining shaft) using a handheld LiDAR (light detection and ranging) scanner. The technology uses lasers to create 3D models and maps of objects and environments.
Long says, “Mining sites, especially ones not currently in use, are ever-changing environments. Knowing the precise nature of that build environment down to the centimetre is crucial for mine planning, safety, and daily operations. Our mobile LiDAR technologies are ideal for such spaces to create highly accurate 3D models.”
Dalton was able to provide Fabled Copper with not only a 3D model of the drift, but also real-world coordinates that correspond to each section of the drift.
The 3D model, combined with the real-world coordinates, ensured the company could know for certain where the desired minerals were before they began drilling.
When asked how their research was received at the showcase, Dalton says, “I hope it was received well! I can never tell what people think when I’m presenting anything. I always get questions like, ‘What even is this technology you’re using?’, so it was nice for people to see the actual impact of geomatics research.”
Dalton didn’t spend their entire time at the event presenting research. They was also able to rub elbows with some of the country’s big decision-makers.
“I had the opportunity to meet with Newfoundland senator Dr. Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia,” they said. “It was such an amazing experience to meet and speak with him and to be able to say I met a senator.”
Now that their trip has ended, Dalton is eager to get back to work doing what they love.
“I know I want to spend my life learning as much as I can in order to help the people and communities around me,” they said. “As far as I know right now, the goal is to use my life experiences and geomatics educational background to empower those in need, and make sure they have the tools to further themselves in a fast-paced, changing world.”
To learn more about Geomatics/Surveying Engineering Technology (Co-op) and other programs, visit www.cna.nl.ca
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Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic