Adventures in Education

March 28, 2011
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Sam Clay (left) and Joseph Pollard


They enjoy hunting, fishing, golf and barbeques. They immerse themselves in history while embracing new technology. They work hard and study harder, trying to learn as much as they can about their chosen future profession. They are tomorrow’s surveyors.

At the University of Texas at Tyler, which offers a 2+2 articulated surveying and mapping degree program in partnership with Tyler Junior College, a new course is helping students explore practical applications of advanced technology. From laser scanners to smartphone apps and social media, the course is encouraging students to consider how modern tools can be put to good use to find new business opportunities and expand professional networks.

For the second part of our continuing series on education, POB interviewed Joseph Pollard and Sam Clay--two students in the Advanced Technologies for Surveyors course at UT Tyler whose ideas for a social media project were recently implemented with the launch of the new Texas Society of Professional Surveyors group on LinkedIn. Their ideas provide some insight into how the next generation views social media and how today’s professionals can tap into these popular networking tools.

Editor’s Note: In addition to the TSPS group, you can also find Joseph Pollard and Sam Clay in POB’s LinkedIn group at www.pobonline.com/connect and in POB’s professional online community at www.rpls.com. UT Tyler's website is www.uttyler.edu, and Tyler Junior College is at www.tjc.edu.

Pollard

Student Name: Joseph Pollard

Educational Institution: University of Texas at Tyler

Course of Study: Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology (Surveying and Mapping Emphasis)

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2011

Career Goals: Pollard is currently employed as a field technician with Bob Matush Surveying Inc. in Tyler. He plans to take the SIT exam in October and then work toward becoming licensed two years later. “At some point, I might own my own business,” he says, “but not in the near future. I want to gain a lot of experience before I make the decision of whether to out on my own.”

Profession Appeal: “I like technology, and it’s pretty cool to see high-density scanning systems in action,” Pollard says. “Also, the GPS technologies are getting better and better every day. But we can’t just rely on the technology; we have to understand the surveying principles and know how to apply them. I’m in a legal principles class right now, and the authors of the textbook we’re using feel pretty strongly about the role that technology should play in the surveying profession. The technology is just a tool and not the be-all and end-all of the surveying profession.”

Pollard says that the historical connections forged by the profession also appeal to him. “I enjoy history and like the historical records that are accessed through the General Land Office,” he says. “I also like that the records we are making today will provide a glimpse into the past for future surveyors.”

Class Assignment: Create a personal profile on LinkedIn and then find a way to promote the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors (TSPS) using the network.

Approach: Pollard suggested that TSPS create a group on LinkedIn that would serve as a marketing channel to share information about the society with surveying professionals and students. He noted that all of the society’s online outlets should work together rather than being independent entities, so that visitors to the TSPS website can easily find the TSPS LinkedIn group and other social networking channels; the LinkedIn group would share information from the TSPS website, etc. “The group would be a good way to forge mentor/mentee relationships between veterans of the profession and students who are interested in it,” he says. “It could allow professionals to mentor students or young surveyors across the state instead of limiting them to their immediate area. It could also provide a forum for discussions about survey-related news and to share advice with others in the profession.”

Practical Application: “The project gave me an insight into how social networking in general could be used to connect people within the profession,” Pollard says. “There are so many people on social networking sites throughout the day on their computers or phones that it’s a good way to get information out. It also makes it easier for someone like me, who’s new to the profession and trying to work my way in, to ask for advice or get information from some of the people who are where I eventually want to be.”

Professor’s Notes: “Joseph’s focus was centered around the idea of connection beyond localization, which is what set him apart,” says Laura Crook, instructor for the Advanced Technologies for Surveyors course at UT Tyler, who is also the technology director for Stanger Surveying Tyler LLC and a TSPS member. “The main objective of the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors is to aid in promotion and education of its members and the general public on the surveying profession. With the help of Joseph Pollard’s ideas on mentorship, TSPS will be taking a very active role in ensuring that the group meets its objective.” The TSPS group on LinkedIn incorporating some of Pollard’s ideas was launched in March.


Clay

Student Name: Sam Clay

Educational Institution: University of Texas at Tyler

Course of Study: Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology (Surveying and Mapping Emphasis)

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2012

Career Goals: “Once I graduate, I’d like to get into a full-time position with a surveying firm and work my way up through all the levels,” Clay says. “Along the way, I’d like to get my SIT and then my RPLS. Maybe one day in the somewhat distant future, I’d like to start my own firm. And then a longer-term goal would be to become a math teacher like my dad and keep the company running on the side.”

Profession Appeal: “What excites me about the surveying profession is that every day is different and brings a new challenge,” Clay says. “Even though the technology is continuing to become faster and more accurate, the job itself remains the same--going out and finding evidence on the ground. And sometimes this takes a diligent effort because you’re not always going to find everything you need. That’s what really intrigued me about the profession in the first place--that you’re not in a cubical all day. You’re out in the world around you, and every day is different.”

Class Assignment: Create a personal profile on LinkedIn and then find a way to promote the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors (TSPS) using the network.

Approach: Clay’s ideas focused on engaging members on a social as well as professional level to create an active network that would foster mentoring and shared education. “One way to engage members would be for the local chapters of TSPS to host events such as barbeques, fish fries, poker nights, etc. in addition to their usual meetings,” Clay says. “This would keep members in contact with one another and keep the group on their minds. These events would also provide a platform for members of other chapters to come and meet other members of the TSPS. As far as engaging members on the actual LinkedIn page, open discussions on current events and various issues would be useful. Other discussions could be of a lighter tone, such as fishing/hunting stories or ‘my worst day in the field.’ Such casual discussions would bring the group together on another level than just a professional one.

“For mentoring, the group could have a separate section that would bring together student members of TSPS as well as full-fledged members. Students could ask questions and share their ideas, and professionals could provide their insights and advice.”

Practical Application: “As a student, I don’t really have a lot of connections in the profession yet,” Clay says. “Who do I go to if I have a question or problem? Through LinkedIn and other social media networks, I can tap into a huge pool of experienced professionals. That would be especially useful when I get to the point where I’m starting my own business. The project also opened my eyes in terms of TSPS and what it takes to keep that organization running.”

Professor’s Notes: “Sam understands that it is not enough to create a site; you have to engage the members,” says Crook. “His ideas for such engagement are what set him apart.” Some of Clay’s ideas are also being implemented in the new TSPS group on LinkedIn.

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