Letters to the Editor

January 1, 2002
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Letter responds to September 2001 issue letter on profession names.

September 2001

I wish to commend W. Tom Foster, PLS, for his excellent letter to the editor in the September 2001 issue of POB concerning the so-called name change of “land surveying” to “geomatics.” His statements reflect my sentiments exactly. As far as I am concerned there is no such thing as “geomatics” or “surveying engineering” as some call our noble and long existing profession.

Another thing he stated: “Very few people understand what a land surveyor does” hits the rebar right on the head. Almost all those requiring the services of a professional land surveyor know more about how to survey than the surveyor does, or so they think. Also, being referred to as an “engineer” is what the uninformed public considers us, as they do not know any better. In my almost 50 years involved in and being licensed in three states, what he experiences is exactly the same as I have.

Anyone who takes the time to read and evaluate Mr. Foster’s letter should realize that all this farce about continuing education is reflected upon the wrong people. Before requiring professionals to put in countless hours for CEUs or PDHs and then having to document all their credits in order to hold their license, this continuing education time requirement would be better spent by those individuals educating the public as to “just what land surveying is and what is entailed in performing this service for them.”

Until the public is educated, continuing education or four-year degrees will not make any difference in how the public sees the land surveyor or the services provided. Most clients perceive a survey as some unnecessary evil and do not stop to think that purchasing a piece of property is probably the most important and expensive thing they will purchase in their lifetime. And yet they have no idea of what they purchased, actually own or where their boundaries are.

I have read articles by some authors who think that changing “land surveying” to “geomatics” is going to attract more students to the “new profession.” Until the pay scale for those starting out is raised to a level comparable to an apprentice plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc., this profession is never going anywhere. At the present, this is not a profession but more of a trade anyway. All any student needs to do is look at the pay scale in surveying and evaluate this with other professions or trades to make the decision on which path to follow. The surveying profession needs to boost its fees in order to pay comparable wages to attract those who would like to pursue “land surveying” as a career.

I am not against continuing education, only mandatory continuing education. I have spent many hours on continuing education by attending seminars, reading various surveying publications and articles, reference books, etc. My concept has been that if you do not learn something new every day, then you are wasting your time and are not benefiting you or the profession.
Charles L. Dowdell, LS or PLS (whichever throws your chain)
Huachuca City, Ariz.

Trimble mapping software products were excluded from the Data Collector Software Survey in the November printed edition. These products’ specifications can be found in the online version located at, Product Surveys, 2001 Data Collector Software Survey.

The spelling of the Bering Sea in the November Latest News story titled “Locating a Sunken Vessel” was incorrect. The correct spelling is Bering Sea, not Bearing Sea. We apologize for the error.

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