In part one of our special Career Notes feature, we spoke with Andrew Crumpler, a senior tutor of the Survey Association’s (TSA) Surveying Course at the Survey School of Worcester. The course aims to train the next generation of surveyors and combat the shortage of surveying training throughout the country. 

As mentioned in the last column, this year, the Survey School celebrated the graduation of 31 students. Nine of those students gained distinctions, four that received prizes for outstanding achievement, and two students, who travelled from Abu Dhabi specifically for the hands-on training in the principles of surveying.

POB was able to speak with two graduates of the Surveying Course: Rafe Holmes and Steven Smith. 

Holmes, of the WYG Group, a professional services firm that operates in 50 locations around the world, was presented with the Chartered ICES prize for “Best Assignment” for his ‘first class’ surveying and setting out design for a new housing estate and access road. 

Smith, of  IIC Technologies, a geospatial solutions and services provider, was the first winner of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) prize. To demonstrate their support for the TSA Course, a new and additional prize for this year was awarded by RICS for the “Best Measured Building Assignment.” Smith won for his very clear explanation of the laser scan surveying process and how to get the best results.

Q: Why did you decide to enter the surveying profession?

Rafe Holmes: After finishing university, I was given an opportunity by my current manager to work within geospatial and engineering at WYG. Initially, I saw it as a temporary role until I could find something that related more to my master of science (MSc). However, after realizing the varied nature of the work, the technology used, and the opportunities for career development within WYG, I decided it was exactly where I wanted to be. 

Steven Smith: By chance, after graduating with a master of arts (MA) degree in Town and Regional Planning in 2013, I was looking for work and applied for a GIS position with IIC Technologies Ltd. The position entailed basic surveying of new features and the update of mapping data on behalf of our client, Ordnance Survey. It was not full-time, so I studied for a masters at the same time. Upon graduating with an MSc in Design and Construction of Zero Carbon and Ultra-Low Energy Buildings, I celebrated the birth of my daughter and joined IIC full-time. Since then, I have been fortunate to work on a huge variety of surveying projects and to travel far and wide: USA, India, Kuwait, Poland, Portugal, Italy, UK and Ireland. 

Geospatial information influences every part of our daily lives; I like that surveyors play a key role in that and in an industry that is constantly innovating. I enjoy the opportunities to use the latest technologies, and specialize in mobile mapping — particularly laser scanning — of historical/complex sites and UAV projects. With the wide range of projects available through IIC, there is also the opportunity for me to widen my experience in areas such as smart cities and virtual reality.

Q: What do you see as some challenges for the profession as you embark on your career?  

Rafe Holmes: Mainly staying on top of the technological advancements at the same time as understanding the client’s requirements. Geospatial surveyors have an ever-expanding selection of tools to use, and I think it is important to not just reach for the latest technology, but to identify the most appropriate kind for the end-use of the data.  

Steven Smith: Keeping pace with technology. Corporately, how to ensure that we invest wisely in the hardware and software that endures, is reliable, accurate, value for the money and best fits our work flow — we haven’t found that one perfect solution from field to delivery yet! Personally, I’d say how to keep up-to-date with new technology in a rapidly changing industry alongside work and family commitments.

Q: Where do you see yourself going next?

Rafe Holmes: I see myself moving towards Earth observation and data management. I think as aerial and satellite imagery/data becomes more accessible and advanced — and decisions within science, engineering and economics are increasingly globally significant — this branch of the geospatial industry will become even more prevalent than it already is.

Steven Smith: Having graduated from the TSA surveying course in July 2018, I am now working towards membership with the two main professional bodies in the UK: RICS and ICES. I also plan to continue my career with IIC Technologies and gain further scanning and surveying experience, as well as perhaps getting into teaching. It would be good to go back to The Survey School at some point in the future and pass on some of the scanning and processing knowledge to the next wave of junior surveyors.

Q: Where would you like to see yourself career-wise in five years?

Rafe Holmes: I would like to be a chartered surveyor and have a senior role managing large projects or teams. I enjoy the collaborative nature of working at WYG, where many disciplines combine to find a single solution, and I would like to have an influential role in delivering projects like these in the future.

Steven Smith: Still in the field as I enjoy all of the challenges each new project brings. Also, teaching and perhaps more business development with IIC Technologies, not just in Europe, but on a global level as I have gained a vast amount of experience being involved in the field work, processing and production. I would like to thank all of the staff at The Survey School for the time and energy they invested in the course and students, and IIC Technologies Ltd., (Europe) for sponsoring and supporting me throughout.

Q: What do you think about the future of the surveying industry? 

Rafe Holmes: It’s exciting because new opportunities and challenges are constantly arising from the changes in the way the world operates. Spatial information is becoming particularly important on a small and large scale, and the geospatial profession will continue to have a role in how the information is gathered, managed and manipulated. 

Steven Smith: The future is looking good for surveying and reality capture. UAVs for photogrammetric, LiDAR, and thermal surveys are constantly improving with better batteries, longer flight times and lighter kits for mounting. Mobile mapping systems (car/boat/plane/backpack/etc.) allowing for rapid data capture to a higher accuracy in a shorter space of time will also be more common and a bit cheaper.

In five years, I think we will see a massive improvement in autonomous UAVs for internal and external survey work, and the captured data will be processed using deep learning. For those companies that can afford to invest in the new technologies and have the ability to recruit the right members of staff (we are a bit of an odd bunch, but work rather well together in some fairly extreme conditions), the future is promising. 

Rafe Holmes works for the WYG group, a professional services firm that operates in 50 locations around the world. Steven Smith works for IIC Technologies, a geospatial solutions and services provider.

Career Notes is a regular feature in POB magazine that aims to help surveyors learn from how others work. To share your story in a future issue, please email Managing Editor Alexis Brumm at