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Letters to the Editor

February 27, 2001
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Letters to the Editor

December 2000

As a surveyor who has worked for railroads for over 30 years, I agree with Wendy Woodbury Straight concerning use of the gauge to determine the center of a railroad track. This coincides with common practice within the rail industry.

Contrary to Mr. Baudendistel’s statement that the standard crosstie is 8' even, main track crossties are presently being cut to an approximate length of 8'6". Additionally, there are industrial-grade crossties that vary in length from 8' to 8'6". These are used predominately in sidings and industrial tracks. In my opinion, the only time a crosstie should be used by a surveyor to determine centerline of a railroad would be in the absence of the rails or other monuments.

John Porter

via E-mail

Letters to the Editor

January 2001

One of the recent letters to the editor grabbed my attention. The “Anonymous Surveyor” expressed outrage at college graduates expecting $30,000 per year, stating that he expected to pay a starting rodman half of that figure. A wage of $7.20/hour will not hire a fast food worker in large portions of the United States, much less a reliable, mathematically equipped, thinking employee. The average pay for starting civil engineers (one source of future surveyors) is around $35,000 and climbing fast. To recruit individuals with the technical skills required of today’s surveyors, companies are going to have to face facts, raise their fees and pay their employees a competitive wage.

Ben Coomes, PE

Louisville, Ky.

I read with great interest the comments submitted by readers regarding the educational requirements for licensure. I was going to submit my opinion after the original article was published but did not. However, I now feel an even greater urge to contribute to this issue. It amazes me that there are people in this profession who would oppose higher standards for professional licensure. I happen to have a four-year degree in surveying engineering and am currently working toward my Juris Doctor degree at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich. In Michigan, where I am proud to say we have some of the toughest requirements for professional licensure (four-year degree and four years experience after receiving your degree), we have the Certified Survey Technician (CST) program, designed to test surveyors at different levels of competency in both office and field procedures. A great deal has been made of this program over the last few years, and employers now look to see whether prospective employees are certified and, if so, at what level.

One of the things that compelled me to write this letter was the man who said “there seems to be no future in just being a surveyor.” That is exactly correct, and that is exactly why every state should raise the bar, so to speak, and require at least a four-year degree in surveying to become licensed. Today’s surveyor isn’t the old guy with suspenders and muddy boots who can break down a section and stake a 40 faster than you could imagine. Today’s surveyor generally wears a shirt and tie, attends township and planning commission meetings, testifies in court, negotiates million dollar contracts, manages large companies, and works side-by-side with engineers and architects. In order for us, as a profession, to demand the respect we deserve, we must require that our licensed professionals be just as or more qualified than those from whom we demand the respect. Within the requirements of a four-year surveying degree are business law courses, public speaking, contracts, ethics and professionalism, English and humanities courses—all of which make for a well-rounded professional. In today’s world, a professional must be effective in all areas of the business world, both technical and professional. So, why would we expect any less from a professional surveyor? I realize you don’t have to have a degree to be an effective professional in this regard, but from the point of raising the standards and demanding respect for surveyors in general, the only way to do this is to require those who are the leaders of our profession to earn the title of professional surveyor.

The next step would be to encourage or require that your survey field and office staff be Certified Survey Technicians. From a purely technical standpoint, I’m sure there are people with 15 years of experience that know more about surveying than the licensed surveyor who is giving them orders or signing their checks. This would be a way to reward knowledge and years of experience while improving the surveying profession.

I believe this profession needs to look at what we can do collectively to improve the perception and begin to win the respect of our peers. Tougher requirements for licensure and CST exams would be a great start to this process.

Jay M. Schwandt

Grand Rapids, Mich.

MicroSurvey Advertisement

January 2001

Having seen its recent ad (POB, January 2001) I’ll be certain to avoid ordering any shirts from the company advertising on pages 30-31, since they obviously have a quality control problem with their buttons. I myself prefer workshirts with buttons that stay secure under the stress and strain of fieldwork—ones that can withstand the weight of a calculator or a well-stuffed vinyl pocket protector. I can only imagine the embarrassment of the unfortunate model upon learning that, due to poor tailoring, many readers might have been needlessly distracted from the details of the pocket-sized PC she was attempting to demonstrate.

Seriously, frequent articles in POB emphasize the importance of professionalism, including dress, among survey practitioners. Perhaps the editorial staff needs to be reminded that they need not feel obligated to accept every single piece of artwork that comes across their desks from an advertiser.

Timothy Cowan, LS

Vergennes, Vt.

I was looking through the January 2001 issue of POB and was disappointed to see that MicroSurvey (pages 30 and 31) chooses to use a woman’s breasts to sell their product. Well, at least they get your attention. I find the ad offensive and unprofessional. Years ago it was very common to see scantily clad women in surveying advertisements, and due to complaints and appeals from other women (and some male) surveyors, the ads were revised. I thought we as a profession had made big steps to improve our image and reach a higher standard professionally. However, it seems that MicroSurvey can only go as far as the chest. I would hope that in the future POB would be more selective or restrictive in the content of the ads published or at least encourage its sponsors to use their creativity to produce advertisements that are appealing to everyone.

Mary Lou Carr, PS

Toledo, Ohio

I am writing to express my displeasure with POB. The MicroSurvey advertisement on pages 30 and 31 of the January 2001 issue of POB was immodest and improper for a professional journal. I would hope that a periodical dedicated to the “concise and aggressive coverage” of the surveying industry would not run salacious ads.

How does this kind of material improve our “professional image”? Do the same type of sensual advertisements appear in trade publications for architects, engineers and lawyers?

Scott Williams, PLS

Seymour, Tenn.

I have been a cheerful subscriber of your magazine for a few years now, and I have taken note of the comments and opinions of fellow surveyors complaining about how the surveying profession has been given a “bad rap” for being a group of unsophisticated rednecks.

You can then imagine my surprise and disappointment at seeing Microsurvey’s ad in your January 2001 issue (pages 30-31) showing a “busting out babe” (since we don’t see the model’s face, I am assuming her beauty extends above the neck) demonstrating its new PocketPC software. I suppose I’m to conclude that the wording “total package” has a double meaning? I’m not going to get too excited about this, for this is the first time I have seen a tactless ad in your magazine.

This ad is inappropriate in that it assumes the only way to sell a product is through sex appeal. Are we to assume that Microsurvey wants to sell its product to men who only make business decisions via their loins? There are places for ads of this nature, but a professional publication such as yours is not one of them. I would be naive if I discount the power of selling a product through sex appeal, but there are better and more elegant ways of doing so. It is possible to create an ad that is sexy and tasteful at the same time, but this ad falls short.

I suggest that your editors take into consideration two things when accepting advertisements. For one, women read your magazine, and two, if we want to be seen as professionals, we need to exhibit a professional attitude. People judge us by what we do and how we present ourselves. You and other surveying publications are key in demonstrating that land surveyors are worthy of appreciation and respect.

Andra Marquardt

Mandan, N.D.

The manufacturer responds:

For the past 16 years, MicroSurvey has designed software for the surveying industry based on what surveyors want and need. The January 2001 ads have drawn excellent response from many surveyors interested in MicroSurvey’s new data collector solutions and integrated desktop software. First and foremost, we remain a company that listens to surveyors. For those who have said that they dislike our ad, as always, we value your input and have a new ad in this issue. We are eager to hear your comments at all times. Stop by our site at www.microsurvey.com, call us at 800/668-3312 or E-mail us at marketing@microsurvey.com

Very best regards and thanks,

Sean Andres

Head of Marketing

MicroSurvey Software Inc.

Editor’s Note:

If you would like to voice your opinion on this style of advertising in a surveying trade publication, please visit www.pobonline.com. Click on Point of View and take part in our “unofficial” computer survey.

The ideas and opinions expressed by our readers do not necessarily reflect those of POB.

Send your thoughts to the editor at brownl@bnp.com or mail to Letters to the Editor, POB magazine, 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Suite 1000, Troy, MI 48084.

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