Point of Beginning

Editor's Note: Surveying sites.

November 25, 2002


Well, it’s time I admit it: the surveying bug has bitten me. During my vacation in October, I was standing on the farthest rock I could on the outermost edges of Eagle Harbor in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I breathed in the cool, crisp air of Lake Superior, let the luscious colors of autumn leaves imprint my mind, and smelled the cleanliness of clear, up-north living. The cottage where I stayed had no television and no computer, and the phone only rang a few times during the week. I didn’t think of work, I didn’t think of bills, I didn’t think of any stress at all.

But once the crisp air began to bite, I headed back toward the warm confines of the lighthouse cottage. As I looked down to ensure my footing on the pointy rock below, I found myself staring at a survey marker. And then my mind started going like a trail of dominos…I started thinking of you guys and gals, your profession, my profession serving yours, the kinds of places surveying takes you.

I remember having a similar experience on a vacation in North Carolina a couple of years before. My accomplishment of hiking to the second highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains meant little as I stood over a monument marker. Not only did surveyors hike that distance some time before me, but they marked it, they preserved a pertinent place on the land on which we live. That in itself is admirable.

There is much diversity in the surveying—or geomatics—profession, including that of GIS work, photogrammetry, remote sensing, geodesy, mapping and others. But the diverse areas to perform boundary and retracement work alone are impressive. The horde of press releases, phone calls and E-mail leads I receive include the locations of various project sites, representing this diversity. Some of these sites include:

  • Bridges
  • Mines
  • Cattle pastures
  • Mountains
  • Cemeteries
  • Railroads
  • Commercial sites
  • Schools
  • Farms
  • Sewer sites
  • Forests
  • Subdivisions
  • Highways
  • Zoos
  • Lift stations

There are so many surveying places to cite; I’m sure you could make a list of your own, maybe even in just the last year or two. There are also the remote areas, such as the Outer Banks of North Carolina that I visited recently on a survey project. Surrounded by lighthouses, water, cotton plants and lots of prickly pear bushes, a group of volunteers came together to prove that surveying is fun and extremely satisfying!

With the many opportunities to explore and expand, my hope is that more students will be bitten by the surveying bug and attracted to the profession, eliminating the fear of a declining pool of newcomers. Many efforts to recruit people into the profession involve introductions and examples of surveying to students with math and science interests. We must not forget the geography and history students, either. So let those surveying bugs out to bite as many people as possible!

To contact the editor, send an E-mail to brownl@bnp.com or mail to 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Suite 1000, Troy, MI 48084.