Bob the Builder has helped children develop an interest in the construction/building trade, why not Sam the Surveyor?

A couple of months ago, I asked my troop of 16 Brownie Girl Scouts, age 6 to 8 years old, to share with the group what they wanted to be when they grow up. I received answers of doctor, nurse, veterinarian, horse trainer, hockey player, lawyer… but can you believe none of them said surveyor or engineer (or Brownie leader)?! It got me thinking about something that I’m sure is a beaten subject, but that I will nonetheless revisit within my “sounding off” page: young people dream about professions they’ve been subjected to—and that, of course, interest or intrigue them. So, if they aren’t introduced to surveying, we need to make that happen. Bob the Builder has helped little boys and girls to develop an interest in the construction/building trade. Why not create a character like, say, Sam the Surveyor? He can come complete with his own plumb bob and survey-grade total station, or at the very least, a level. Added accessories can include a safety vest, machete and field book. I suppose Sam should be a male, considering the majority that gender holds in the industry. Sam could be a girl, though, couldn’t she?

This past March, in collaboration with Excellence in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education Week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta joined President Bush in applauding students, teachers and parents who are following special interests in math, science and technology. The week of recognition for these subjects lent itself to promotion of careers in these areas, with a concentration on transportation. One segment, the maritime industry, took this opportunity to launch a recruitment initiative to attract students to work in ship operations, where “shortages are becoming critical.”

Surveying, of course, comes to mind as it directly involves math, science and technology as its foundation, and is a profession where shortages are indeed (and unfortunately) becoming critical. As I looked further into the determined efforts of the various industries with a transportation relation, I came across a website for kids called Student News Net (, developed by The Pencil Group of Toledo, Ohio. The site has a Careers section, a collection of professionals’ profiles. Students can read about a NOAA research coordinator, an engineer and remote sensing researcher, an oceanographer and an education specialist for NASA. It also highlights historical pioneers such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers. But, alas… no surveyor. I contacted the editor, who agreed with the proposal for including a surveyor profile to inspire math, science and technology students. “All of these, after all, are what surveyors need to perform their important task of measuring the Earth,” I told her.

So, I pass this opportunity onto you, my survey friends. Do you know a surveyor who you believe would make a nice addition to the Careers collection of Pencil News? Who do you know that would be a good “poster child” for the profession? Write to me with details and we’ll let the POB pool of professionals vote.

Who do you think would be the best “Sam the Surveyor”?

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