At a Midwest survey conference last month, the keynote speaker told the attendees to look around the room. “How many gray haired professionals do you see?” he asked. The observation was humbling, not only because I was one of them, but also because it provided a good indication of the direction our human resources are headed. It is not technology that is detrimental to the longevity of the survey profession but our inability to attract the next generation. Where are the mentors of our youth? The technology these “PlayStation kids” grew up with doesn’t seem relevant beyond gaming and socializing.
the question, What will attract future surveyors to the profession? Structural
issues deplete human capital. We live in a nation where education is falling
behind. What excited me 35 years ago was the technology that moved the
profession forward. The ability to better evaluate and automate a property line
or more accurately set a corner was intriguing to me. Today, this same
technology mindset is restraining human interaction.
in the buffet line, I noticed that all those gray haired professionals were
chatting among themselves. The few younger attendees were on their electronic
gadgets pushing buttons and being absorbed by whatever it was they were doing.
As I tried to engage them in conversation, the ear buds they were wearing
prevented me from doing so. When did live interaction take a back seat to
technology? Is it possible these “kids” were in the wrong room?
comes to attracting the youth proficient in technology into the survey
profession, is it the mentors that are failing because of our stagnant
environment and lack of involvement?
generation of surveyors needs to know that technology can provide more than
just high game scores. For example, an agency that is implementing mobile
mapping for the first time faces an experience much like choosing a cell phone-there
is a seemingly unlimited array of confusing options available. Imagine a
profession that actually helps the AEC world through collaboration rather than
leaving the decisions to individuals who have absolutely no understanding of
attended conferences that were successful at engaging young survey students. Seeing
the future through their eyes is encouraging. They are hungry for their
professional life to begin and ask great questions about the profession and the
is not a threat to our livelihood as surveyors. On the contrary, it can be used
to expand our service offerings to existing clients or, even more exciting, new
clients that we hadn’t previously considered as a market segment.
In my 35-year
career as a surveyor, I have seen many technologies embraced as a way of
advancing the profession, but the idea of using LiDAR as a catalyst to build the
profession seems to be taboo. Twelve years ago, static laser scanning suffered a
setback because it was seen as a threat by the keepers of the profession. Seemingly
little has changed since then.
attend state surveyor conferences around the United States, some important trends
are visible. Unemployment is high, but companies still have trouble finding
talented skilled workers. If we as surveyors don’t embrace LiDAR technology as
a way to expand our businesses, we will not only lose human capital but also certain
areas of civil/survey services.