Thought Leader: The Back Story

A 85Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

As NSPS President in 1986, I was invited to the NCEES annual conference in St. Louis. Area 5 Director Chuck Tapley (now deceased) was with me. Wow! What a lesson for a dirt surveyor from Colorado. Black tie, buttoned down and totally controlled behind the scenes by ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers). One issue for discussion and the reason I was there was concerning certain proposed laws and rules in Florida about what engineers could do and what surveyors could do legally. (Think money).

The Public Use
The NCEES model law is used nationwide by many states as written or with modifications to suit the locale. Since NCEES also produces the national exams I am thinking they have way too much power. So what is behind the curtain? Is this about fees and subsequent survival of the organization as well? After all less surveyors means less exam fees. Then there’s the insistence of nationwide rules to make the licenses portable across state lines, like engineers. The public reason, IMO for this meeting is: "why aren’t there more people signing up to be surveyors"?

The Rant
1. The need just isn’t there. Technology has turned the profession upside down and shaken out a good 70% of what would have been surveyors in the `80s.
2. The obsession with an ABET accredited four year degree for initial licensure has kept many away financially. Why would you spend all the hard earned money or scholarship on a profession the at best makes 60 to 70 % of what an engineer or architect could make?
3. I have friends and colleagues that teach and have taught at New Mexico State University over in Las Cruces and have been a speaker there myself. So why does a student in their program of "Surveying Engineering" (choke) have all the curriculum required higher math and very little on real property boundary law and the USPLSS. Again IMO it is outside influence through the NCEES and the State Boards that are obsessed with higher math, which they all had to take, and think surveyors have to do the same.
Okay, End of Rant

Bottom line
Protect the franchise to boundary survey only by properly examined and licensed individuals. This is all we have that’s exclusive and makes us "special" and marketable and if we lose it we will be like Texans at the Alamo. This just in: as of Email to my office on February 16, 2016. The AZ legislature is proposing to eliminate registration of geologists and landscape architects. Do you hear the "fire bell in the night? You better!

Back in ’86 we were too nice. NSPS was ambushed at the last minute and had to scramble just to get there and have a voice. The deference to engineers then and now may be because most surveyors work for large multi-disciplined firms and in general, with the exception of a few top of the line organizations surveyors are kept around as a support group (and sometimes scapegoat) for the engineers, architects and planners. The respect level is just not there, never has been. Even an accredited college degree has not and won’t cure it.

John Stock PS, CFM, is an NSPS past president and is currently the Chief Surveyor, Flood Control District of Maricopa County, Arizona.

A 85Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE