New Editorial Board
Professional Surveyor Magazine - August 2011
As we at the magazine witness our subscribers increase their professional services, we’re increasing the types of information and guidance we provide to you. There are many opportunities for those in our profession willing to go the extra mile (or more) to explore these new opportunities, to learn, and to invest in their futures.
To guide us in this effort we’re welcoming a new editorial board: seven specialists in surveying and mapping, as well as the increasingly important related fields. Through our magazine they are connecting you with cutting-edge practitioners and new practices. You may recognize a few of these names and faces; here is information about each in a longer version than appears in the August print issue.
NGS Chief Geodetic Surveyor
I have been engaged in geodetic surveying since my enlistment in the U.S. Army in July 1967. Following a tour with an Army topographic engineer company in Germany, in 1970 I was employed by a small surveying firm near Washington D.C, while I attended undergraduate school in geodesy at George Washington University.
Since I joined the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) in August 1972, my duties have included a wide array of field and office activities that keep me in constant connection with the surveying, mapping, and GIS communities. I have served in my current position of NGS chief geodetic surveyor since 2000, where I am challenged with efforts to keep the various elements of the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) up to date with contemporary measurement technologies and advise NGS on improvements to a variety of products and services aimed at ensuring the highest possible positional integrity.
This task often includes the development and presentation of seminars and workshops detailing the components of NSRS and their application to the wide array of practical activities that are increasingly required by a diverse range of professional disciplines engaged in high-accuracy positioning.
Because positioning services and technologies will continue to improve and become more cost-effective and ubiquitous, I believe the roles of surveyors are being challenged in many areas. Regrettably, training in the fundamentals of geodetic reference systems has not generally been a part of the educational or practical process leading to surveying professional licensure and is an area of technical weakness for many in the profession.
I believe that those who aggressively support improved technical, professional development and engage in active participation with their local survey chapters, as well as state, national, and even international surveying associations, will guide the direction of the profession into the future.
Kristian Forslin, GISP
GIS Coordinator for North Carolina Railroad Company
I have been involved in the geospatial industry for more than 15 years, concentrating on GIS project management. I have held several technical, project-management, and business-development positions with various geospatial firms that have provided me with numerous opportunities to work with, for, and around surveyors.
In this career, I have found it essential to actively participate in both the GIS and the surveying communities in order to create successful partnerships. The current position I hold is the GIS coordinator for the property department of a railroad company, which has helped me uncover even more interesting and unique aspects to these partnerships with the surveying profession.
Most railroads are more than 100 years old and carry a great deal of land ownership “baggage” that takes effort to decipher, communicate, and correct or re-establish. Surveyors obviously are integral in this process, and it’s crucial for me to effectively communicate with them, especially when it comes to issues that have such longevity as railroad property matters.
If there is one single thing I have come to learn (or re-confirm, as the case may be) about the intersection of such railroad property matters and the surveying profession, it is that the results of substandard work, or even slightly unclear or outdated work, can last a long time and have repercussions that filter through a number of other professions and local government institutions. Whatever the geospatial task, all roads either start or end with some form of surveying, or at the very least visit the survey profession somewhere along the way.
My work with surveyors began when working part-time for a small photogrammtery and GIS-mapping provider while completing a degree in geography from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. I also have a certificate in GIS/GPS Technology. This commitment to continued education has allowed me to obtain and keep my geographic information systems professional (GISP) certification.
I also have found value in professional association involvement including eight years with the Carolina Chapter of URISA, starting on the advisory board and then moving up to various executive positions. I served as president for two years during which time the chapter obtained the URISA Outstanding Chapter of the Year Award. I am also involved with the local chapter of GITA and am an associate member of the North Carolina Society of Surveyors.
My career continues to afford me the opportunity to work closely with the surveying community, various professional associations, local governments, state agencies, and other public service companies. Surveys, data, projects, software, and maps are among the many things professionals in this industry can create, but I have found that the partnerships are the most rewarding.
Tate Jones, PLS
Owner and President of LandAir Surveying Company of Georgia
I am a graduate of Auburn University and have been in the land surveying business since 1968, becoming registered in 1982.
I started my first land surveying business in 1988 and the current company in 2001. The core employees in the first business group are still working together in the current business. The firm’s specialty is producing high-quality 3D data in a wide variety of environments. We have been using 3D laser scanning since 2005, GPS since 1992, and high-precision total stations and digital levels since 2001.
Because we are a surveying firm, the quality of data and the ability to meet and respond to client’s needs are important, and we are always looking at hardware and software to be more efficient. At the same time we are looking to expand our deliverables and client base.
I am blessed to have an excellent staff and operations manager who handles the day-to-day operations and allows me to work in sales and marketing, which I enjoy, and in legal and finance, which are important.
I believe that 3D laser scanning is a fluid and rapidly changing field, and I have attended multiple national and international conferences every year since 2005 to closely watch this industry. Currently, most of the software is geared toward the engineers, architects, surveyors, and contractors; however, more and more new software is being developed in such specialties as metrology, piping, forensics, and cultural heritage preservation.
I believe that in some form everyone in the land surveying business can and will benefit from this new technology.
This is the same advanced lidar technology that is aboard airplanes, helicopters, and mobile scanning platforms, making large-scale, highly detailed maps. The software written for this technology can also be used in underwater technology, generating data from sonar scans. In some cases the point cloud is replacing aerial photographs, and the fine DTM mesh is replacing ground contours. I have seen recent requests for proposals generated by counties and cities with ground contours as optional deliverables.
I am passionate about this technology and look forward to watching and reviewing how it is changing our world.
Joe Priestner, PLS, PE
Partner with LandMarker Geospatial, LLC
Don’t let the PE appended behind my name distract you. I am a surveyor. I’ve been a surveyor since the days I sat in Col. Thomas Dion’s surveying classes at The Citadel. Col. Dion was a tough “throw the eraser at the dozing student” kind of professor. I loved the guy, and my fascination with what he was teaching, more so than the threat of an eraser bouncing off my head, kept me from nodding off. I think it was the combination of investigation and measurement that got me hooked. Well … that and the cool tools.
My career has been shaped by startling technological advances in the field of surveying and a single-minded determination to get my hands on them. In truth, this curiosity and inquisitiveness has shifted my career closer to that of a measurement specialist, or “metrologist,” rather than what most would consider to be the career of a typical land surveyor. I have been focused for the past five years on positioning support for large-scale construction projects, primarily automated machine guidance, marine positioning, and structural deformation monitoring.
I will admit that I do sometimes miss the investigative part—poring through property records for the lost deed, or discovering the original corner that has not been found for 50 years. But the thrill of overcoming challenges and making multiple sensors and systems work together to provide real-time data for guidance or monitoring systems seems to placate my inner detective.
I am a strong proponent of higher education in surveying. I have heard all the comments—over and over again—of engineers versus surveyors. However, it is my education in both engineering and surveying, coupled with the oft-repeated motto, “I wonder if I can,” that has allowed me to rapidly implement these new technologies into the day-to-day operations within my own company. I believe that embracing the new “cool tools” will ultimately keep surveyors in the game; however, it may also change the face of surveying as it currently stands ... something we surveyors must be willing to accept and adapt to and be the best at—or we may well see our profession taken over by those who are.
Rudy Stricklan, RSL, GISP
Principal Consultant with Mapping Automation, LLC
After graduating from the Colorado School of Mines with degrees in mathematics and geophysics, I began my geomatics-focused career as a production manager with Technical Advisors, a computerized plat-mapping business in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1982, I founded Mapping Automation, Inc., providing GIS services using measurement-based surveying technology. The company was the first GIS-focused consultancy in Arizona, delivering more than 200 GIS-related projects, ranging from small municipalities to large-scale regional government entities.
In 2000, I worked with a variety of national-level engineering companies to integrate GIS technology into their internal information management workflows. I re-formed Mapping Automation in late 2010 as an LLC. It now operates as a cyberconsultancy, retaining core technical management and administrative staff to coordinate the workings of specialized partners worldwide. For each client engagement, a unique project team is assembled and connected through the internet. Web collaboration techniques coordinate project execution as well as connect clients on a 24×7 real-time basis to monitor and participate in project progress.
I served as a peer reviewer of national-scale GIS standardization initiatives as a corresponding member of the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s cadastral subcommittee. I specialize in measurement-based cadastral GIS, and I’m a frequent presenter at national GIS conferences.
I was president and founding member of several pioneering GIS-related user groups in Arizona and am an emeritus executive board member of Arizona’s Geographic Information Council.
A registered land surveyor in Arizona and certified GIS professional, I am a charter member of the Arizona Professional Land Surveyors (APLS). I was the APLS state chairman from 2009-2010 and was instrumental in authoring and promoting state legislation relating to coordinate system modernization, as well as instituting a Geospatial Professional APLS membership category.
I have authored more than 100 GIS industry presentations and published articles, and I am a senior faculty associate for Arizona State University’s geography department, lecturing in the department’s Masters in Advanced Studies for GIS degree program. I reside in Phoenix, Arizona, am married, and have two grown children. My hobbies include hiking and collector car activities.
Jim Crabtree, CP, PLS
Vice President of AeroMetric Inc., Retired
As a surveyor and photogrammetrist for the past 48 years, I have worked as field assistant, party chief, and project manager in the United States and abroad, which included serving as chief geodetic surveyor on a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contract to map the Nile River Valley and provide training to the Egyptian Survey Authority. Additionally, from 1982 to 1983, I was director of operations and president of a Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based firm specializing in providing advanced surveying and mapping services for projects in the Middle East.
For the last three decades, my primary responsibilities have been weighted toward administration, business development, and recruiting in the western United States, where most recently I served as regional administrator for AeroMetric, a national geospatial services company.
Although I retired last year, I still participate in and follow professional activities of national aerial mapping and high-resolution surveying organizations, focusing on photogrammetric and lidar technologies and services. I was a contributing author to the ASPRS Manual of Photogrammetry 4th Edition, and I write professional papers and articles.
I believe that, while aerial mapping is surveying as defined by many states, it certainly dovetails with traditional ground surveying as well as with high-resolution surveying and mobile mapping, because traditional ground surveying is nearly always an element of those projects.
It is critically important for surveyors of whatever specialty to keep a broad understanding of all elements of the geospatial business and keep abreast of the associated market activities, or they will risk being left behind without marketable skills. Active participation in multiple professional organizations is probably the best way of keeping up, although not the only way.
If I had to say in one sentence my advice for keeping current technically and staying in business in this lean and fast-changing environment, I would counsel a surveyor to spend at least as much of your professional development time in the presence of your clients as in the presence of your competitors, to educate yourself about what your clients need, and then to provide it well.
James Fleming, LS
Owner of Antietam Land Surveying, LLC
I am the former editor of Professional Surveyor Magazine and owner of Antietam Land Surveying, LLC, in Hagerstown, Maryland, a solo surveying firm specializing in land development surveying. I began surveying in 1988 after a career change, previously working as a campaign consultant and media analyst for a political action committee.
During my 23-year surveying career I have worked at firms ranging in size from 3 to more than 150 employees. I have also been a volunteer for the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES), working on the Principles of Surveying exam cut score committee.
With my current firm, I’m trying to leverage modern technology to expand the idea of what a solo firm can perform. Every surveyor recognizes that with the advent of robotics, GPS networks, and more robust field-to-finish software, the solo surveyor has been able to perform the work that needed a two- or three-man crew in the past.
In addition, advances in office software have greatly reduced the time it takes to prepare plans. What I don't see too much of, however, is surveyors using emerging technologies to adapt their business model to the new marketplace. In the last few years, it's not just surveyors who have been affected by the downturn in the construction and development industry. Large numbers of engineer, architects, planners, and cad technicians are in the same boat, and many of them have started their own small firms. By putting together a team of consultants and using technologies such as video conferencing and cloud servers, there is no reason why a consortium of smaller firms can't compete with the larger big box firms on selected projects.
More than a year ago I wrote in this magazine, "I believe we are at a crossroads in our profession. The recession forced many firms in the area I work to reduce their staff by 20% or more. We all know of licensed surveyors who are taking jobs in other fields, either changing careers permanently, or riding out the storm, waiting on jobs that may, or may not come back.”
A year later I still see the same thing. I was talking to a fellow surveyor the other day who is so frustrated with the state of the profession that he's looking for opportunities to change careers, even though he hasn’t paid off the student loans for his surveying degree. The profession is still at that crossroads, and hopefully publications like this can help provide the profession with the tools required to select the correct path.
» Back to our August 2011 Issue