Inside GNSS Media & Research

SEP-OCT 2018

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30 Inside GNSS S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 8 www.insidegnss.com chance would have it, Jens and Birgitta chose the same dancehall on the same evening, and the rest, as they say, is history. e Jensens exchanged vows and settled down to raise a family, includ- ing two daughters and a son. Birgitta was now officially a farm wife, but, all the same, she made sure her children learned to play the piano. "Our closest neighbor had a dairy farm, and there were some woods a short walk from the house," said Anna. "It was classical Danish farmland, with the nearest village and the nearest chil- dren of my age two kilometers away." e Jensen farm was small, not enough to sustain the family, she said. "So growing crops was really a hobby for my father. His real work was as a farming consultant, a job he did for many years. And then he also spent basically all of his free time working on our own and my grandparents' farms, so if we children wanted to spend time with him, we had to go along, which we did." ough the district around their home was delightfully countrified, they were still less than an hour's drive from Aarhus, the local metropolis of about 350,000 people. So Anna's mother was able to maintain a very active cultural life, oen going to the theater or to classical concerts in the nearby city. "Harvest time in August and Sep- tember was always special," Anna recalled. "ere was a hectic but good atmosphere. ere was lots of work to do, everybody was helping as best they could, neighbors supporting each other, combines running in the middle of the night, tension around the weath- er. Will it rain or won't it? And at the same time there were sweet apples to eat right from trees in the orchards. "One's relationship to nature, the open sky, and the way you could follow the seasons by the vegetation, these are some of my dearest memories of grow- ing up." e stage being set, it was time for little Anna to come into her own. Joining the Two Ends Today, the farm child, the country girl who played piano and read books, is Professor Anna B.O. Jensen, a woman standing at the top rung of navigation and positioning science and technol- ogy. "Perhaps the distance between farm- ing and science/engineering is not so great aer all," she mused. "You think about what farmers do in their fields. For instance, when they put down fertil- izer and then compare the effects across spots that got enough or too little. is is surely a kind of science." Down on the farm, Anna had learned about machines and how to fix things yourself. "I watched my father work on complex equipment," she said, "everything from lawn mowers to trac- tors and combine harvesters. He taught to me how to study things and figure Dr. Jensen working on one of her many GNSS projects over the years. out how they work, by following cables or gears to see how different parts interact with each other. "e most important thing, I think, in terms of how far I have come in life, was really the determination shown by my parents. My mother always told me and my sister that we could do as well as the boys and she encouraged us to climb trees and play soccer. It was important for her that we were not limited by con- ventional ideas about 'girls jobs'. "My sister and I are very close in age, and we had lots of fun as chil- dren, but most of the time there was also some competition going on. For instance, my sister oen got better marks than I did in school, which she would point out. But then I was one year ahead of her, so she always knew what she was up against. "To my father, who'd had a hard time getting himself into university, it was important that my siblings and I got an education, and he encouraged us to do science." And so she did. Anna's first university degree was a B.Sc. in land surveying, which she received from the University of Aalborg in 1992. e turning point that led her to satellite-based navigation, she said, her "GNSS Aha!" moment, came when she was an undergraduate. "I was working on a project with the new Ashtech P12 receivers that had just been acquired by the university. We had lots of problems and never managed to produce a posi- tion from the data collected. But dur- ing the process of trying to solve the problems I started reading a lot about GPS and was very fascinated by the technology. It was the first time I really dug into an assignment – not because I had to, but because it was interesting." Later, in 1993, while studying for a Master's degree, she spent time as a vis- iting student at the University of Cal- gary, where she took a course in GNSS under Professor Gérard Lachapelle. It was then, she said, that she truly "fell in love" with the technology. "It was really inspiring, not only the course itself, but also to work with other stu- dents who were 'caught' by GNSS. is was when I decided to pursue a career in the field." HUMAN ENGINEERING

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