Sentera, a global technology company that devises hardware and software to interface with precision agriculture equipment such as planters and fertilizer applicators, employs three types of technicians:
- engineering technicians who work in the Minnesota company’s lab to build prototypes of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), sensors, and cameras;
- geospatial information systems (GIS) technicians who create maps with layers of data; and
- aerial imaging technicians who pilot UASs, also know as drones, in the field.
During a recent interview via Zoom, Todd Colten, Sentera’s chief aerospace engineer and director of Flight Services, discussed the rapid pace of change in agriculture technology and related industries, the skills he looks for when hiring technicians, and the attributes he anticipates UAS employers will be seeking in 10 years. Digital literacy is the answer to the last question, but the specific digital skills won’t be known for a few years when “some other widget or some other new advanced capability” emerges.
“Everything is always changing,” he said, pointing to his company’s plan to add 30 GIS technicians to its current contingent of 15 by June to illustrate his point.