On Level Ground

SPECIAL ESSAY SECTION: The Future of Surveying

student essay | by Julien Clifford

1st place: Winner of an R10 GNSS rover, courtesy of Trimble.
 
PSM is proud to award the first prize in the student essay contest to Julien Clifford, a fulltime student enrolled in the Geographic Informa-tion Science and Geospatial Surveying Engineering programs at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi. In his fine “Future of Surveying” essay, Julien (who hails from Houston, Texas and entered the geomatics career opportunities for himself and of a bright future for the surveying profession. As the grand prize winner, Julien will be awarded a new R10 GNSS rover courtesy of contest co-sponsor Trimble.
 
Before we discuss the future of surveying, we must first consider where the new surveyors will come from. Surveying is a holistic profession; the mind-boggling array of skills required to be successful spans a range from art to engineering, crossing history and law along the way. A growing trend has been towards the requirement of a college degree, through the restriction of licensure, and this requires a strong network of schools dedicated to educating and inspiring new surveyors. I am completely confident in the ability of surveying as a profession to entice new recruits. Universities, however, will need to capture the imagination of young people who have an interest in science, math, and history.

Once these future multi-skilled measurers enter the surveying profession, they will be taking part in a transformed market. Surveying, in the future, will be an ever-changing profession, with rapid technology changes that challenge the surveyor’s instinct for slow and steady accuracy.

My future in surveying is, at this point, somewhat ambiguous. This is not a bad thing, how
ever; this ambiguity is born of overwhelming choice and opportunity. I have been lucky to attend a school that is reputable in geomatics, and as a result I have had a wide variety of experiences. This field has allowed me to experience hydrographic surveys in the vast Gulf of Mexico, write code for mobile phone applications to be used by ship captains, and trudge through wild marshes with a GPS in hand.  These experiences have all been priceless in allowing me to learn about the future of surveying; they have all, except for the last instance, allowed me to keep relatively dry, as well.

Surveying will be pushed forward by its people. An inherent characteristic of surveyors is that they are perpetual entrepreneurs, both in business and thought. This entrepreneurial spirit will create new businesses and link small field practices to the larger world of data collecting and analysis. Small family practices will be part of a global profession, sharing data and best practices across the world.

The future will be driven by technology, data, and accessibility. Technology will manifest itself most obviously in the software we will use to process our data. The way in which we collect our data is also vitally important, and storage of this data will be an extremely important part of the future, especially with the inevitable digitization of land records. This data must also be effectively communicated; mobile platforms are being more widely adopted, along with the increasing normalcy of data consumption. The major advances in the surveying field will be made in the realms of data accessibility and visualization.

I am eager to seek this future simply because of the new challenges it presents. These changing conditions will provide excellent opportunities, and my motivation to never be bored with what I do is satiated by this incredibly dynamic profession. It is thanks to these unique attributes that I find my future prospects on level ground.

Julien Clifford is a fulltime student enrolled in the Geographic Information Science and Geospatial Surveying Engineering programs at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi.

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