Point of Beginning

Editor's Note

November 1, 2004
This fall, Robert Taylor will be the first graduate of the Surveying/Geographical Information Systems program at Cleveland State Community College (CSCC) in Cleveland, Tennessee. He will also be the last. The program is expected to be canceled following the fall semester.

It is a shame that the college will no longer offer the surveying/GIS program-one less educational institution to do so in the States. It is also a great disappointment that the program wasn't given much time to grow; it was established just three years ago.

Although the threat of cancellation looms over some surveying programs, I am more concerned that the few precious surveying programs in the States risk being dissolved into the engineering curriculums. Many programs have already followed this path. This trend begs the question, "Are we giving it away?"

What will become of surveying curriculums that are re-titled, re-cast and shifted into pre-engineering and engineering programs? Will this further diminish the efforts of surveyors to sustain their own ground and the prestigious status their profession once had? Or will this shift lead surveying to become looked upon more and more as a trade, not taken seriously enough for its complexity and variety of disciplines, and consistently compared to-or worse-referred to as "another engineering field"?

It will be interesting to see if enrollment levels increase under the more publicly known title of "engineering," but I do not believe this renaming step is necessary for surveying to stay afloat. But, unless or until industry professionals, students and program heads stand up for the profession and for its future growth, surveying programs-and perhaps the profession itself-may be doomed to a certain degree. CSCC's program instructor, Barry Savage, PLS, puts it like this: "If surveyors don't put their foot down and demand that surveying be treated as a separate and distinct profession from engineering, the problem will get worse."

And with a large number of colleges and universities undergoing budget slashes, proponents of programs must become even more creative than ever. Without positive, frequent promotion of surveying to the public, school programs will most likely see a continuation in dwindling enrollments, a lessened knowledge of surveying by the public and potential students, and dare I say, a desolate future of discounted interest for the profession.

It appears that many people are suffering from bystander apathy, the belief that things will "just work themselves out." Many times, though, a fight is necessary to cause change or to prevent change.

So I ask you, "Are we giving it away?" And further, "What will you do to save surveying?"