James P. Reilly
AS most people know, I have been writing for POB since the mid-1980s. In addition to these contributions, I am like most of POB’s contributing editors: I have a full-time job.

From about 1986 to late 1990, I was self-employed, living in Florida, and gave at least three seminars each month under the sponsorship of POB. The seminars I give today are limited in number because, as I said above, I have a full-time job. As most people know, there is a difference between a job and a position. Most of us have jobs, very few have positions. I’m no exception.

In the summer of 1990, I was approached by New Mexico State University about being the department head of the newly formed department of surveying. I had to think hard about this. I was self-employed, doing what I wanted to do. I also remembered when I was on the surveying faculty at a Midwestern university, having to work every weekend preparing lessons for the following week. The thing that intrigued me about New Mexico State was that a law had been passed requiring a four-year degree in surveying to be licensed in the state. But, the position at NMSU was for 12 months each year, not the nine month appointment I had at the Midwestern university.

Nonetheless, I took the job in August 1990. There was another reason why: the department was, as the name implies, a separate department in the College of Engineering. The university “officially” gave us departmental status. The only person I had to report to was the Dean of the College of Engineering.

Within two years, we added two faculty members, applied for accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and were accredited under the Related Area Commission (RAC). The department had its first graduate in December 1990, and we now graduate approximately 10 students each year. We have changed the name of the department and the degree to surveying engineering. In October 2000, we were visited by an ABET inspection team from the Engineering Area Commission (EAC) and have high hopes of achieving engineering accreditation by the fall of 2001.

So, that’s my job. I’m the department head of the department of surveying engineering at New Mexico State University. We have produced about 80 graduates since 1990 and, with few exceptions, they are employed as surveyors. There is no surveying engineering exam for registration in the United States; all graduates take the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) exams in surveying.

In many respects, this job is no different than my Midwestern university experience. Sundays are spent getting lessons ready and grading papers. But, this will end on August 1, 2001 as I will be retiring. When people ask what I plan to do after I retire, I tell them I will sleep until 7:00 a.m. I’m sure I will give seminars and provide some geodetic consulting. I always plan to spend some time restoring my several collector cars that have been sitting around. I also promised a publishing company I would write a book. And, I plan to continue The GPS Observer column. Somebody has to convince the practicing surveyor that surface coordinates are a poor substitute for state plane coordinates.