In this video, Professor Craig Rodger, a University of Otago Space Physics researcher, admits that there is not a huge demand for people like him. However, by studying space physics, he believes that a set of flexible and transferable skills is developed. Craig gives an example of this by referring to an ex-student of his who is now employed by a major bank.
New Zealand doesn’t need to make massive numbers of people like me. They need to make massive numbers of people who have scientific ability and technological ability, because the tools that you will want to use in your job in 20 years in the future or indeed in your life 20 years in the future do not exist now. They’re not even ideas right now. But if you have a really good set of scientific and technological skills, you’ll be flexible. Space physics is one way of getting those skills as are many other sciences.
I can give some personal examples of some of my students. One of my students – Bonar – he did a master’s with me. He was processing massive amounts of satellite data looking for certain signatures that we were interested in. And that worked really well. He’s now working for a big bank in Auckland processing large amounts of financial data looking for certain signatures that were inside the financial data. They were so excited when they interviewed him when they found out that he was used to working with big data sets looking for and doing modelling of big data sets. He had no financial background, but those skills were perfect for him in that bank and so he finished his master’s with me and flew immediately to Auckland to put on a very nice suit and start that job.
Associate Professor Craig Rodger, University of Otago, Department of Physics