November 1, 2007
In the past two issues of POB, I have read two letters on the topic of required licensure for the creation of 3D models that concerned me. Each of these individuals [who wrote the letters] say they know of few, if any, licensed surveyors or engineers [who] have the knowledge to build 3D models. I really find that hard to believe. If you are pooling your efforts from strictly land surveyors, you might have that problem. But these individuals do not lack the brains to do this but more than likely require training in the software used by that company. I have worked in the construction and mining industry for the past 14 years. I became a licensed surveyor in 2006 and a licensed grading and excavation contractor in 2007 out of a natural “path of progression” that I laid out to accomplish. So, to those [who] say it is impractical or unreasonable to obtain licensure, I am afraid I cannot agree because I did this with a full-time job and a full-time family, so I know it can be done. But you must be committed to your cause. We too “pioneered” along with the countless thousands of contractors, engineer/survey firms, and GIS professionals that purveyors of this technology used to develop their products. I work with individuals licensed as engineers and surveyors [who] have the ability to create any 3D terrain model you can dream up and I would put as much faith in these models as any created anywhere by any “professional construction modeler.” We, too, use machine guidance on some of the largest earthmoving machines. I personally oversee the GPS units as well as help in the creation of these models, and I do not believe that the engineering and surveying community “ignored” this technology. With that being said, I am not here to knock anyone. We have non-licensed engineering technicians [who] also create very elaborate and accurate 3D models for machine guidance, so I agree with these readers that licensure does not give benevolent knowledge instantly on creation of 3D models. However, to say that the engineering and surveying community lacks this knowledge is more than off-center--it is ridiculous. To those [who] have a problem with what these state boards are doing, contact these boards. Find out what they have to say. Maybe there is a larger picture here. Seldom does any project begin or end with a DTM. Most projects are a kaleidoscope of permitting, state and federal construction codes, natural resource management considerations, etc. Maybe this is where the licensed individual comes in because it is not just a stamp you receive, it is a responsibility to the public. And if you are in [this] just for the money, then get out; we have enough of those problems already.
So to sum up my feelings on this subject: No, licensure is not a requirement for the ability to create 3D models. But the implementation of these in a grander scheme should definitely be overseen by a licensed responsible party, be that a contractor, surveyor or engineer. Let’s not act like mad 5-year-olds when our feelings are hurt; I am sure no state board is out to get an entire profession. Let’s work together to get the job done.
I just read your article. Some of it I agree with and some I do not. I definitely feel we need to be paid more; however, I feel that states requiring a degree in order to be licensed is one major reason we are lacking in our ability to recruit more people into this profession. We cannot all attend college, and surveying was a way for the layperson to become a professional without having to attain a degree.
You stated that the average age of the members of the surveying societies is around 57 years old. I would like to know how many of them have a degree and when they received it. I started surveying [more than] 20 years ago. At that time, one needed to be a party chief for four years and have three surveyors vouch for his/her abilities, then he/she was allowed to sit for the exam. One still needs to pass it whether one has a degree or not. At that time, we had many more people apply for positions than we had positions to fill. A common person could walk in off the street, begin surveying as a rodman and see that there was a path to higher achievement. That path has been wiped out in most states now. Many people cannot grasp the math. I failed algebra in high school. However, when I got my first surveying job, I could see how the math was applied and could understand then that “A” means this and “B” means that. I can understand all of it [now]. There are many people out there who are just like that: they cannot sit in a classroom and grasp the meaning of what is be[ing] taught, [but] they can be taken out and shown it. These are generally the type of people who like to work with their hands and who like being outside rather than in an office at a desk. They don’t mind the weather or the snakes, ticks and mosquitos. Now their path to a license has been torn down; they become disgusted with the profession and leave [because] they can only go so far. Even states that allow someone without a degree and many years of experience [to practice] are reluctant to allow them to sit for the exam.
There will have to be some kind of union for survey personnel to set wages and we will have to rely on that union to supply us with field personnel. The college grad does not want to be out in the field; he is already an LSIT and wants that office position. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have heard that from degreed personnel. At any rate, I’ll take someone who has been out in the field surveying for four years, 40-plus hours a week every week [over] someone who sat in a classroom and talked about surveying for two or three hours a week for four years!
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