Point of Beginning

Editor's Points-Professional Adventures

March 1, 2007


My job occasionally takes me to manufacturers’ facilities, conferences and trade shows, and jobsites. Each trip gives me insight into the various challenges you are faced with and the opportunities you are offered. Most times, I return home thinking, “That was pretty cool.” And every time I gain more respect and admiration for the profession.

Whether your work involves GIS, GPS, geodetic, construction, cadastral, boundary, or the more niche markets of forensic, hydrographic or aerial surveying, it’s an exciting profession to be in. I’m continuously intrigued by the endless quests and explorations you all undertake.

Many of your jobs take you on professional adventures. Some of you see amazing places (think: historical, geological, geographical, etc.), some of you help build impressive places and some of you journey to corners of the Earth that hold gems unknown to many others. In any given day, on any given project, most of you can tell stories about being chased by homeowners and/or their dogs; threatened by snakes, bears or other animals and reptiles; wading across waters and climbing hills and mountains; and experiencing rigorously physical and mental tests. Experiences in the records offices, including the characters encountered, are often anything but dull, too.

In this issue of POB, for example, we highlight surveying work done on one of our country’s busiest expressways and in the jungles of Panama. Mitchell Wimbush’s article features scanning work of petroglyphs, for a shoe commercial and in the aftermath of a forest fire. On the recreational side of surveying is a sport rapidly growing in popularity: geocaching. Just ask Ernie Cantu about his adventures with this connection to GPS.

Others of you never stray far from home and marvel--even in the smallest way--at the individual characteristics of your local and regional backdrops. Perhaps these jobs aren’t extravagant enough to be labeled “high profile,” but they are just as telling about the surveyor’s fascinating and often upredictable days.

And in the online community of surveyors, ever so many posts on RPLS.com include details of strange sightings, interesting finds and peculiar occurrences. Rarely does a surveyor tell a boring story.

Some of you are members of nonprofit groups who perform surveying services for communities in need of sustainable systems or improved structures. Your work is performed in beautiful, and sometimes exotic, places. You help to prep, build and improve the utilities, construction, property, waters and GIS for communities of hundreds and thousands of people. You are the foundation for much of the world’s infrastructure. That’s something to be proud of. These adventures and journeys serve as an outlet for surveyors to realize the value of their profession.

Our Third Annual Highlights in Surveying Project Contest, which ended last month, made me aware of such interesting and exciting projects. The outstanding submittals we’ve received will make it tough to select a winner. We hope to print some, if not all, of the projects in our pages throughout the year. We think you’ll enjoy reading the details of the projects as well as the challenges the surveyors and related professionals encountered and overcame.

A surveyor in Northeast Florida called me in January to pitch a story about “a legend in the surveying trade,” as he put it. The “legend” he refers to is a man who works in his city’s topographic office. He is not a surveyor, but every surveyor in the area has a story about him. “He’ll do anything in the world to help someone,” the caller said. He’s apparently a walking history book of the area and everyone looks up to him for his knowledge.

This is an example of the stories we love to hear. Real, colorful and with heart. Of course, we like the gritty, messy, scary and intriguing stories as well. Which one do you want to share?

To contact the editor, send an E-mail to hohnerl@bnpmedia.com or mail to 2401 W. Big Beaver Rd., Ste. 700, Troy, MI 48084.

We’re always interested in your stories. Please stop by our booth at ACSM, booth #219, to share a story with our staff. If you can’t make it to the conference, look for us at other industry trade shows or contact us directly. Every story has merit.