From start to summit, the Devils National Monument Tower rises 867 feet. Aaron Bicknese (Land Surveyor Incorporated) was at basecamp performing a construction stakeout when he snapped a photo.

“Our firm landed the contract to perform all construction staking services on the renovations at the Devil’s Tower National Monument,” he says. “The parking lot was undergoing major reconstruction to accommodate more bus traffic and a better traffic flow.”

Additionally, a new 1200-foot trail following Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) standards will make the trail from the parking lot to the base of the Tower more accessible for disabled patrons. “The project has had extensive changes and obstacles to overcome due to the nature of the terrain and historical/spiritual significance within the Native community,” Bicknese explains. “The project has been very interesting needless to say, and I am anxious to see its completion.”

An interest in engineering landed Bicknese a job upon joining the military and cultivated his interest in surveying and CAD. 

“I have learned an amazing amount since joining the private sector, and I love the opportunity for new challenges every day,” he says. 

Sometimes, Bicknese explains, the challenge can be to resist letting technology do all the work. “Unfortunately I think a lot of people are getting to the point that there is too much trust in ‘machine control’ and those types of processes that they really underestimate the value of having a person on the ground that can catch critical errors before they happen,” he says. “Sometimes the authority on these topics does not have the knowledge that they should in order to make the call if machine control is sufficient or not. As far as boundary surveying goes, I think that the profession will always be needed heavily. But again, there is such little knowledge about our profession and the liabilities that can come along with our work, people often choose to not pay for the work to be done properly and issues only get worse with time.”  

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A version of this article was originally published in the June 2020 issue of POB.