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CREATE Training Program in Vision Science & Applications

Site Visits

All trainees participate in site visits to Canadian industrial and government labs. Thus far site visits have included:

2013 Ottawa Trip Itinerary

CREATE-VSA-Ottawa-Field-Trip-Oct-2013 [PDF]

2013 Ottawa Trip Photos

Testimonials

"I really enjoyed this CREATE trip to Ottawa. I went into it thinking that there would be very few job opportunities for me after completing my Master’s that wouldn’t have been available to me even without a university education. Contrary to my expectations, many of the people we spoke with came from backgrounds at least somewhat different from where they ended up career-wise. Now I expect there is some possibility of getting a job in government or industry after completing my master’s through my understanding of human vision and face processing, along with a demonstrated ability to conduct sound research and adapt to new research areas quickly. My career opportunities would likely increase even more if I were to complete a PhD in something a little more applied than face processing, like many of the other students on the trip.

"The ottawa trip was a useful trip as it demonstrated several different career options for vision scientists aside from academia. The trip allowed me to interact with individuals in the industry and understand what is required to attain this kind of job. Personally, I would have never even considered asking the questions that were answered on this trip. The trip has definitely allowed me to consider different paths for my career in different areas of vision. Lastly, the trip allowed me to get to know the fellow students in the program and the different areas of research within the program."

"I thought this was a very interesting field trip - I think we all got exposed to applications of vision science that we normally might not think of. For me, it was especially interesting to see how vision science fits in a large multidisciplinary team of scientists, and it was interesting to hear about the backgrounds people bring to these teams. If I am completely honest, working in industry always seemed a bit dull to me compared to fundamental science, but this trip has really showed me otherwise."

"The CREATE trip between October 20th and 22nd consisted of site visits to the National Research Council Flight Research Lab, Neptec Technologies headquarters, and the National Research Council Lighting Lab. The visits were aimed at introducing CREATE trainees to a host of distinct applications of vision science in industry, and overall they succeeded in this task.

"NRC’s Flight Research Lab tour began with a brief visit to the hangar and a description of the aircraft used by the research team. Following this was a series of presentations about the history of the Flight Research lab, and an outline of some of the ongoing projects relevant to vision science. On the whole, the tour was excellently planned and executed, and I greatly appreciated that the tour organizer made a special effort to highlight the role of vision science in their research. The Flight Lab was the most interesting site visit of the Ottawa trip, and the presenters were clearly knowledgeable and enthusiastic in their field.

"Neptec Technologies is a private company that creates scanning and navigation systems for lunar and Martian terrain vehicles. The site visit included an introduction to the company’s history, an overview of their flagship navigation system, a discussion of the challenges associated with long-range navigation in different atmospheric conditions, and a demonstration of their suite of rovers. While this visit was interesting and engaging, the company was primarily comprised of engineers and computer scientists. It was clear that computer vision was a major concern for the product designers, but it was not immediately obvious what role a psychology-based vision scientist might play in their work. The visit was certainly worthwhile, but perhaps not particularly geared towards the majority of students on the trip.

"Finally, NRC’s Lighting Lab consisted of a presentation on a history of research on interactions between lighting, mood and performance in office spaces, followed by a tour of the research facilities associated with the lab. The topics presented offered a sample of theoretical and applied research associated within the field of human factors and performance. I was particularly interested in the research involving lighting conditions in shared spaces, and how allowing office workers control over lighting in their own workstations improved several factors associated with their working ability and mood. This strikes me as a particularly relevant area of research, and a good introduction to a non-academic research a vision scientist might pursue. My only criticism of this section of the trip is that I wish we had been able to visit more of the facilities at the Montreal Road location, associated with other human factors research.

"In summary, the CREATE Ottawa trip successfully introduced students to applications in vision science in industry. I feel that in particular it was beneficial to us as students to hear talks tailored towards careers in vision science outside of academia, and the possibilities that exist, and I hope more of these presentations will be available to us in the future."

"The most useful part of the Ottawa trip for me was the trip to the NRC Fight Research lab. Especially meeting researchers whom received PhD degrees and have found positions in government research. I have been working in basic research, and have recently been troubled by whether my research has any real purpose or use. Additionally I am feeling overwhelmed with the constant publish or perish atmosphere in adacemia, and have difficulties managing the political and social aspects of academic science which are surprisingly important. Relating to this, a position in government research seems a promising change. If my knowledge in research design and expertise in perceptual systems could be put towards some useful goal, such as helping pilots to navigate, I would feel my work holds more value. The most useful part of the trip was thus seeing scientists who were conducting research to solve challenging real world problems. In particular, I learned that there is a need to develop standards and best practices for tactile displays. This is something that I may be qualified for. In sum, the prospect of having an applied science that uses the skills I have developed from academia was useful."

"Overall I thought the trip was quite fascinating and offered me a very different perspective than the last CREATE trip where we visited the company Vpixx in Montreal. The previous trip offered the perspective of what it is like to start a company from the ground up and the different elements necessary to make it function and succeed. The Ottawa trip seemed to focus on government funded research and in my opinion was a better model for what kind of work experts in vision science can be employed for.

"I felt that seeing the work done on human-machine interactions at the National Research Council was the most inspiring as it was the most interesting and comprehensible. Whether that particular venue would be a place I could potentially be employed or not, it was wonderful to see how behavioural research could be used in a practical and interesting way. In this case, to help determine how users could best use current navigational technologies to pilot aircraft. I particularly liked how Lindsey referred to the notion of “the craft becoming an extension of the self”. This issue of human-machine interactions is interesting to me and I am inspired to keep that open as an avenue for potential industry work that I would find fulfilling.

"The navigational technology of the land rovers discussed at NEPTEC was interesting and enjoyable but seemed a little bit out of my range of expertise. This work seems more suitable to computer programmers and engineers but it nonetheless broadened my horizons. Any knowledge gathered about what kind of industry work is going on is in my opinion invaluable when trying to develop an understanding of what is going on in industry. This makes me think that what might be useful for CREATE students is exposure to what media resources we could use to inform ourselves about how the industry at large fluctuates and changes and where people with our kind of knowledge could be useful.

"Finally, the Lighting Lab was interesting as well but the presenters did not inspire in the same way as the other venues. The research didn’t quite seem as current or as important for modern society. Perhaps it was my own inability to appreciate what they were conveying but that is the feeling I was left with. Lighting research itself is very interesting and relevent but I would personally rather stay within academia to learn more pursue it.

"Overall, it was a very provoking and valuable trip. Like I said earlier, gathering knowledge about the industry side of things at all has been an enriching experience. Seeing the broad range of non-academic workplaces has given me more perspective and ideas."

"On October 21st, I was part of a group funded by the NSERC CREATE vision Science and Applications Grant that took part in a field trip to two NRC research labs, and the private company Neptec. The first NRC lab's focus was on providing support to industry and other government ministries with respect to aerospace technology. I found this part of our trip to be especially useful because it provided a very clear sense of what kinds of human factors research might be valuable to industry. As one simple example, I learned that companies which provide flight simulation technology for pilot training cannot simply build simulators based on the work of some clever computer scientists and engineers, but also require real data about how specific aircraft respond to pilot commands in real time. Before seeing this, I would have naively assumed that the physical sciences of fluid dynamics, etc. would have, by now, developed sufficiently powerful theoretical models that a simple knowledge of a given aircraft's physical parameters (geometry, thrust, etc.) would be sufficient to create a realistic simulation. Our visit to this NRC lab also allowed me to network by re-establishing communication with human factors scientists who I had met previously. Overall, it was a great experience.

"Our second visit was to a company called Neptec, which engages in the design of localization technology for lunar rovers based mostly on rover-acquired imagery. This site-visit was quite interesting as well because it showed a clear example of a private company that really benefits from interaction with vision scientists. In particular, it was interesting to me because localization of a rover seems to work best with multiple sources of information (e.g. laser range-finders combined with direct imagery, etc.). One of my own lines of research focuses specifically on how the human brain optimally combines multiple sources of sensory information to generate unitary percepts of quantities of interest. It was nice to see this line of investigation paralleled in an engineering task.

"Our final visit was to an NRC lighting lab. This was of least interest to me personally because it is not directly linked with anything I spend time thinking about. Moreover, although the work is clearly important, the researchers at the facility seemed largely uninspired by their own work and I think most people on the trip were just not inspired by this visit."

"During my visit to Ottawa, I was particularly drawn to the NRC Flight Research Lab as this is an organization that falls directly in-line with my research interests and professional aspirations. My research interest is in visual-spatial orientation, brain-imaging and applications of vision science and neuroscience. Aerospace and aviation research are areas that present a host of applied problems within my research area. Because of this, the Flight Lab allowed me to gain first-hand experience in speaking with research scientists and pilots that face these applied research problems and allowed me to understand what academic background has motivated their choice in working in NRC’s Flight Research Lab."

"Since I am interested in a career in industry, I found that the Ottawa field trip was useful for giving me an idea about what it might actually be like to work in industry. It was very interesting to visit the different types of companies and learn about the things that they do. I thought it was great to find out about how the employees ended up working in industry and to hear about their perspectives of what it is like to work for the companies. "

"In addition to the trip to Ottawa being a great chance to meet and discuss research with others in the CREATE program at York, it provided me with a new perspective on the opportunities available following graduate school. I was initially puzzled to hear we would be going to the NRC flight lab and Neptec Technologies, but I now see that there are many potential careers available as a vision researcher. Although it is unlikely I would work at those places specifically, the trip allowed me to think more abstractly about potential future careers. This new perspective is what I gained most from this trip because I am no longer confined to the narrow view I had of post-graduate career opportunities. (As well, it was awesome to visit the various labs and to see demonstrations of such cool technology!)"

"The CREATE trip to Ottawa was valuable to my career development; it showed me that the idea I had of the path for a research scientist (undergrad, graduate, post doc, faculty) was not completely accurate. I was enlightened to the fact that there are people in this country actively doing vision research outside of a University setting. I had previously been concerned that certain inflexibilities in my life could prevent me from achieving some of my goals. Secondly I was completely unaware the Canadian Government maintained an institution like the National Research Council. I feel as thought my career options have grown just knowing such a place exists."