Letters to the Editor
January 2004: OffsetsI agree 100 percent with the article [The surveyor's new clothes]. He [Dennis Mouland] has hit the nail on the head. The testing questions [of the NCEES] are being brought upon us by people who have no concept of what it takes to be a surveyor. I have been in this profession for 46 years and I know that in the last six or seven years the young surveyors are being denied licensure by forces that are ignorant of the facts.
The word is spreading among the unlicensed about the testing and how the questions are asked, and it quickly turns them off. They see many qualified surveyors not passing due to irrelevant test questions and they look at other fields to pursue. The average surveyor probably works in two or three adjacent states his entire career. Instead of national tests, there should be more regionalization of testing.
Regarding the four-year degree: I look to the state of New Jersey [and] believe they have had 15 or 20 surveyors registered in the last five years. Need I say more? The educators in this country need a wake-up call.
Edmund Chadrow Jr., PLS
Hear, hear to Mr. Dennis Mouland, PLS! I am an unlicensed party chief in Florida with 11 years of field experience. For me to [obtain] a license, I must travel three hours to the closest college that offers all of the credits in surveying needed. I am 31 years old with a wife, a mortgage and car payments like anyone else. I cannot drive that far every night to go to school and still be home (rested) and go to work to continue paying my bills.
I don't know the exact numbers but of the surveyors in my area, I would have to say [that] 90 percent of them attained their licenses when they were grandfathered in before the law changed to formal education requirements for licensure. I didn't quite [have enough] field experience at the time of that change. That leaves behind those of us stranded too far away from college courses like wounded soldiers left to die. Isn't there something that can be done to rectify situations like mine?
I commend the efforts of Mr. Dennis J. Mouland, PLS, regarding his article in "Offsets." I agree 100 percent with his contentions; the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) has created a so-called "test" that is laughable in my opinion.
When I took the test I was aghast at the contents. The test was filled with questions of trivia and performing tasks that I stopped doing 15 years ago. And in an attempt to ask questions on updated survey technology, I believe the Council failed miserably with such questions as: "How many bits in a byte?" (Or is that bytes in a bit? Who cares? That's the point!).
To paraphrase the author, "NCEES needs to put its clothes back on!"
While I am not an opponent of education, I am an opponent of licensure by degree only. I knew half a dozen good party chiefs who never attained PLS [status] in New Jersey when that state decided to go to a degree-only [requirement].
I'm deeply concerned that our profession (due to four-year degree requirements and the rest of our "new clothes" shutting out, or worse, turning off otherwise qualified individuals) may one day be nothing more than a part of the civil engineering profession.
Donald S. Pensyl, II
February 2004: Back to BasicsI just finished reading the February issue and had a few comments on the Back to Basics article, "Using base line offset layout." This method re-quires a lot of instrument setups, and short backsights will be hard to avoid. Radial stakeout seems like a much better option. In addition, the article did not deal with locating the building in relation to the property line. The front corners of the building will probably be set radially so you might as well continue with the rest of the corners. Actually, it would make more sense to just calculate offset points in the first place and set them. I can't see much use for this method with the equipment we have available today.
Author Wes Crawford responds:
Agreed! This method does take more time and more setups than radial layout. Since this is a "back to basics" column, I present different ways to accomplish layout. Base line offset is just another method. I agree that radial is a better method-if you have the coordinates. It may be hard to believe, but there are still people who do not know how to calculate coordinates and who don't have the more modern equipment. (For instance, contractors use this method all the time.) I see them all the time in seminars I give. So, for them, base line offset is a great method.
January 2004: A Case of Give and TakeI read [Ian] Wilson's article on adverse possession with a great deal of cynicism. Here's how it's done in my little corner of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff finds a tract of ground that appears to be unaccounted for. He may or may not post signs against trespassing. He may or may not record a quitclaim deed from himself to himself, describing the tract in very vague terms. He does nothing else to establish adverse possession. Then, without waiting the required 21 years, he files an action of quiet title, claiming adverse possession. The only defendants he names are William Penn's sons and possibly some other persons who died at least a hundred years ago. When the case comes to court, the defendants don't show up (how could they? They're dead!). The judge automatically finds in favor of the plaintiff, never questioning the apparently fraudulent claim of adverse possession.
None of the lofty doctrines about possession even come into play. In many cases the land in question is steep woodland with no frontage. It is likely to have been inadvertently abandoned by the last record owner through 200 years of sloppy conveyances, haphazard estate administration, poor surveys and bad tax record keeping. Still, mere knowledge of a tract of ground should not be sufficient to claim title. I am only aware of what happens within my jurisdiction. However, it's likely that similar circumstances occur elsewhere.
January/February 2004: Editor's NotesI presently work as an instrument operator and have read your last two articles on the recruiting of new surveyors and the future shortage of qualified surveyors. My suggestion is [to] up the salary. I only make $9.50/hr and I have been on the job for four years. After much thought I am giving up my time and changing careers to something that will actually pay the bills. After four years my wife now has a bachelor's [degree] in civil engineering and makes $35K a year as an EIT. What have I got? We couldn't even pay the rent without her paycheck. If you want new people to take this profession seriously the pay has got to be competitive with something other than [what they get at] Burger King. No one in their right mind wants to deal with all the [people] we deal with on a daily basis when they can make more money, stay warm, dry and comfortable asking if someone wants fries with his burger. After doing this for four years I would never recommend this as a career for anyone until there is some respect for the surveyor and someone can actually afford to live without being supplemented by either their significant other or parents. After struggling to make ends meet I am actually looking forward to turning in my tripod and gun. Although I will miss being in the great outdoors and breathing clean un-recirculated air, I may actually be able to afford to take my wife out to dinner once in awhile and go on a real vacation.
Editor's Note: The above letter was printed as informational and discussion material only. It is the third letter of like content that POB's editor has received in recent months. As such, it is believed to be important information to share with POB readers. However, the sender has been granted anonymity so as not to potentially complicate any future endeavors he may have in returning to the profession, which he hopes to do someday.
The ideas and opinions expressed by our readers do not necessarily reflect those of POB.