DEVELOP Alumni Spotlight

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DEVELOP Spring 2020 Lambayeque Team
DEVELOP's Spring 2020 Lambayeque Team. Image Credit: NASA DEVELOP

When Fressia Bechard started her first NASA DEVELOP term in the spring of 2020 at Langley Research Center, one of her primary goals was to learn and build geographic information systems (GIS) skills. It might have come as a surprise if, on her first day, you told her that one of her DEVELOP team members would later recruit her for a 3D Production team at Maxar. Nonetheless, Fressia’s desire to learn and passion for the human aspect of GIS led to the two DEVELOPers reuniting down the road.

Fressia began with DEVELOP with a background in biology that proved advantageous during the team’s literature review and initial research. The team compared historical hydrologic patterns to tree mortality in Northwestern Peru’s coastal mesquite forests to assist the Lambayeque Regional Government’s understanding of forest decline. As the team moved into the analysis, Fressia took advantage of the learning opportunities and was never afraid to ask for help regarding GIS, noting that “Everyone [was] so enthusiastic!” Learning how to work in a team with people from different backgrounds and learning how to rely on others were two of the most valuable skills she said she learned at DEVELOP.

DEVELOP Fressia Bechard. Image Credit: NASA DEVELOP
DEVELOP Alumni Fressia Bechard. Image Credit: NASA DEVELOP

After DEVELOP, she returned to her biology roots, working with animals at a vet clinic. One day, Luke Quattrochi, her former team member from the Lambayeque Water Resources team, reached out about recent openings at his job. Fressia applied, got the position, and joined Luke on a team that now had a growing number of former DEVELOPers.

Fressia’s new team is reminiscent of teams at DEVELOP, relying on teamwork and communication between multiple people working concurrently on projects. The 80-person team consists of team leads, mentors, and quality control analysts who work together on the production of 3D geospatial products. Not surprisingly, the job requires exceptional attention to detail, which Fressia remarked was a skill she honed at DEVELOP that has helped her excel in her current role.

“THE WORK I’M DOING IS CONTRIBUTING TO SOMETHING, AND THAT’S THE SAME MINDSET I HAD AT DEVELOP...I’M HELPING THESE PEOPLE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY WITH AN ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE THAT THEY’RE HAVING.”

— FRESSIA BECHARD, DEVELOP ALUMNI

Between her background in biology and her job at a vet clinic immediately following DEVELOP, there was clearly a unique attraction to the world of GIS that eventually brought her back. When asked why she returned to the industry, she said she was drawn to it by the human aspect.

In many ways, the human aspect has always been a guiding light throughout Fressia’s career. She has put an emphasis on working with people from different backgrounds, communicating with and learning from others, and ultimately pursuing meaningful work that helps people. “I want to make sure my work is important in some way...I know that what I’m doing is going to be really big in the next few years.

Tyler Pantle is the current Fellow of the Massachusetts—Boston DEVELOP location and a member of DEVELOP’s Communications team. He has a B.A. in Environmental Geography, with a research focus on the intersection of remote sensing and environmental studies. He is interested in everything related to Earth science, with a particular interest in wildfires and disasters.

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