Co-Worker Interview: National Surveyors Week

Posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 by
In Surveying, tagged in
national surveyor week affinis

In honor of National Surveyors Week, we interviewed two of our co-workers, asking them why they chose the profession and how it has changed over the years. Here’s what they had to say:

Why did you decide to become a surveyor?
Aubrey Meyer: Like so many in the land surveying profession, it sort of found me. I grew up in a family that was in residential and commercial construction and always had an interest in civil engineering, but was not sure that I wanted to be an engineer. Having spent my summers and weekends working on many construction projects helping out the family, I knew that I wanted to do something different for my career. When I learned of land surveying, it seemed like a good fit for me.

Kellan Gregory: I decided to become a land surveyor because of the myriad of aspects that surveying entails. I enjoy being outside, seeing new places, and getting to work with both my hands and my mind. Throughout school, my English and mathematical skills were fair, and surveying offers an aspect of art alongside the science. I really started taking a hard look into surveying during my junior year of high school. By the time I had hit my senior year, my mind had been made up.

How did you find out about the profession?
Aubrey: Robert Ubben is a family friend that I have known for most of my life. I had contacted him when I graduated high school about a possible job, but he was not in a position to hire at the time. A few years later when Affinis started, he found himself in need of an instrument person and reached out to me.

Kellan: I found out about the profession mainly through my dad. He worked for Ford Motor Company and was responsible for the construction of one of their new truck plants. He worked closely with the land surveying company that was in charge of the construction staking on that project. In the process of getting familiar with the surveying practice through that exposure, he suggested I look into it as a career.

How has the profession changed since you started?
Aubrey: When I started, a typical survey crew consisted of 2-3 people. The idea that a single person could perform any surveying task on their own was not even an option. We would spend several days getting project controls set, traversing control, and running level elevations for miles. Today, GPS has come a long way; the implementation of Virtual Reference Station Networks that many state agencies are implementing across the country are allowing surveys to be conducted more efficiently. Wireless technology, such as Bluetooth, allows for the data collector to control and record data transmitted from a robotic total station over distances of more than 1,000 feet. This, along with robotics being incorporated into survey total stations, has eliminated the need for a dedicated instrument person in most cases.

Kellan: A big change in the profession, since I started, has been the technological leaps. When I started, GPS wasn’t as widely used as it is now and most firms were still performing surveys with a standard two-man team. Today, most firms use a combination of GPS and robotic instruments to perform surveys with one person, and some have also started incorporating drone technology into their workflows to further expedite projects without as much manpower.

How do you think it will evolve in the next 5 years?
Aubrey: Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have proved to provide reliable data and will become a tool that all surveyors will be accustomed to using. UAS technologies are allowing surveys to be conducted in areas that are not conducive to or not safe for traditional survey methods. As UAS mountable remote sensing technologies become more compact, the uses of UAS in surveying and mapping will continue to emerge into other markets.

Kellan: I believe a big advancement within the realm of drones will be realized within the next five years. Drone and camera manufacturers continue to produce hardware that allows projects to be completed faster than ever with an end product that would rival that of traditional survey methods. The engineering and construction industries have also made their voices heard on Capitol Hill, asking legislators for a relaxing of the FAA regulations governing drone flights. Should some of these regulations be lessened or removed, it would permit drone-based surveying practices in areas that were once highly restricted.

In which ways does surveying help move communities forward?
Aubrey: In most cases a survey is conducted as part of finding a solution to a problem. Whether it be a boundary survey for a property dispute or prior to the construction of a fence, or an all-encompassing topographic and boundary survey for a civil design, a quality land survey is the backbone of the project. We are the eyes and ears on the ground. We see the field conditions and talk to the property owners and residents about their problems and concerns. As land surveyors, it is our duty to identify, map, and report any information that will aid in creating a solution to move communities forward.

Kellan: I believe surveying moves communities forward by allowing them a strong foundation. A surveyor’s main objective in any project is to protect the public interest. We strive to make sure we solve problems instead of create them and leave a clear path to follow for those that come behind us. By making sure the results of our work can be built upon by those that come after us, we provide a strong foundation for a community to grow and move forward.

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