Traversing the Law
June 2007

Mr. Lucas’ article was most appropriate. The subject and information related to “The Manual” supports what I have been teaching my surveying students at [the] college level for a long time. It is good to know that others understand the purpose of “The Manual” and how it should and should not be used in surveying. I would recommend to any surveyor [who] deals with the Public Land Survey System in any way, especially county surveyors, to read … no, study the article and materials referred to. It may change the way you look at restoration of lost and obliterated corners.

Ernest D. Rowley, PLS

Technology Benchmark
June 2007

I just read the article “Requiring licensure for digital stakeout” by Harry Ward, and wanted to send you my thoughts. Just about every engineer or surveyor I know would not know how to build a 3D model if they tried. Most only know AutoCAD from the time they spent working as interns doing mediocre drafting during summer breaks from school. I have been in the civil consulting field for almost 20 years and have been building 3D models for at least 15 of those years. To say that only a licensed engineer or surveyor is competent enough to build a 3D model only shows the arrogance typically found in the engineering and surveying profession. What training is involved with becoming a licensed engineer or surveyor that is associated with 3D modeling? Are there college courses teaching 3D modeling? As far as I know there are none. The interns I am working with this summer are from large big name colleges and have very little knowledge of AutoCAD outside of drawing text, lines and circles. Also, if you look at any CAD file produced by engineering and surveying firms these days you would see why there is a need for people like me [who] can build a detailed 3D model. It is absolutely crazy that firms (even large national firms) are still hand drawing contours in AutoCAD to create drawings and surfaces. These plans are done under the supervision of a PE but still lack the 3D data and detail required for machine control.

I am trained and certified to create 3D models and am not a licensed engineer or surveyor, and I was trained by non-licensed individuals as any licensed engineer or surveyor would be. I would say that I am extremely competent and able to perform 3D data prep for use with machine control. Mr. Ward would say that I am not simply because I am not a licensed individual. Even if I got licensed tomorrow I would still be the same individual and possess the same knowledge about 3D modeling and machine control. I would not all of a sudden become an expert in the matter just because I became licensed. Are we going to require those [who] do the training to be licensed also? Where does it stop? To assume that only a licensed individual can produce an error-free model is absolutely ridiculous. Let the free market dictate who is able to grow a business producing 3D models. The people [who] produce poor models will be quickly weeded out and be put out of business due to lack of work because no one will want to do business with them. The article cited a few instances where things went wrong but did not report the stuff that goes right as is the case most of the time. In my experience from doing data prep, any errors are due to the control setup in the field by a licensed surveyor and not the model! The last time I checked, licensed engineers and surveyors still make mistakes and get sued. If a contractor chooses to hire someone without the proper E&O insurance, that is their fault to do business that way with millions of dollars on the line.

It seems like this is all about dollars and who gets the piece of the pie and much less about the actual knowledge and abilities of individuals. It doesn’t matter if that person is licensed or not. Anyone who does a model can be sued and held accountable. The state boards have the authority to impose fines and revoke licenses, but no one is ever going to go to jail for an error in a 3D model.

In my opinion it is extremely arrogant to assume that only a licensed individual may perform 3D modeling for use with machine control grading. There would not be a need for 3D data prep if the licensed individuals had the training and expertise to produce the data in the first place. The data prep market was built out of necessity and to say the ones that have been doing it no longer can just shows the greed of the engineering and surveying professions. Let the market determine who can and can’t build models.

B. Baire

Columnist Harry Ward, PE, responds:

What we tried to do in this article was to inform the surveying community that this position [of requiring licensure for digital stakeout] was gaining momentum around the country. Another aspect of the discussion has to do with the double-edged sword associated with the states’ position statements and that although it may expand the work falling into the engineers and surveyors area, it also brings with it new responsibility to become better trained and skilled in how to perform this level of work required by contractors. It has very little to do with who makes the model but it has a lot to do with who is legally and financially responsible for the work.

Excellent article! I fully support licensed individuals being in charge of this type of work. In fact, I believe all GPS and construction staking activities should be under the direction of a licensed person.

Doug Cruse, LS


On page 72 of Turning Points in the June issue, Point to Point Inc.’s headquarters location was inaccurately listed as Kansas City, Mo. The correct location of Point to Point Inc. is Marshall, Va.

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