Meet Sam the Surveyor

January 1, 2004
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This month's candidate: Jan Van Sickle, PLS

Jan Van Sickle, PLS
Name: Jan Van Sickle, PLS

Director of Survey and GIS, V3 Consultants, Lakewood, Colorado

Registered/licensed in: Oregon, California, Colorado

Other professional credits: SAG, AFTRA, Equity (film, TV, radio, theater)

Year started in profession: 1964

How started in profession: "My father was a surveyor and engineer. I started helping him when I was just a kid."

What you like best about land surveying: "All the best people I have known in my life have been (are) surveyors."

What grinds you: "Folks [who] believe you can understand surveying without actually going out in the field and doing the work."

What keeps you going in your job: "Besides the best people in the world? I suppose the challenge of a constantly changing, constantly advancing profession that has a long, long tradition of excellence."

Best surveying memory: "I was on the top of Piute Mountain in California doing triangulation with a T2 at night-out on a ledge with quite a drop off. I was eating some pancake mix right out of the package. I heard something behind me. I was a little worried since I had no place to run. I whipped around with my flashlight thinking something was coming up behind me. Nothing. I figured I imagined it. But it kept happening. I was getting a little scared. Finally I turned around and shined the flashlight between my feet. There was a little kangaroo rat that kept running out from his hole and filling his cheek pouches with the crumbs I was dropping and then running back when I'd turn around. I had a good laugh at myself."

Weirdest memory: "I was walking up Rocky Knob near Murphy, North Carolina, and a mountain lion came down the trail right at me. He wasn't interested in me; there was obviously something chasing him. He veered off the trail and I wasn't worried about him. But I did start singing [be]cause I figured somebody was trailing-and probably with a gun. Sure enough there was. I talked with him; he thought he had a raccoon. I didn't tell him any different because there weren't supposed to be lions in that area, but I did suggest he might give up the chase."

Accessories you can't leave home without: "A plumb bob. Yeah, I know they're obsolete, but I feel better knowing where down is."

Personal philosophy: "Work hard."

Contributions to the profession: Author of two books, GPS for Land Surveyors and 1001 Solved Surveying Fundamentals Problems.

Greatest personal accomplishments: Working with the first commercially available GPS receiver, the Macrometer, First GPS (XYZ) control in the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Reason why you're a role model for future surveyors: "I love this profession."

Reason how surveyors can ensure future success in industry: "Don't stop learning."

Stay tuned for more Sam the Surveyor candidate profiles in future issues. To submit a profile, see our application on the homepage.

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