From the Editor: Licensure Mobility

Retracement surveyors are practitioners. Our education is ceaseless but measured at minimum competence through licensure.

Let’s face it, geodesy, construction staking, and topographic mapping are all lather, rinse, repeat exercises in which “knowledge” can and has been automated. Don’t get me wrong, they can be very complex subjects and hold many challenges, but they are largely “learn ‘em, leave ‘em, look ‘em up” matters. However, they are also appropriately included in the grab bag of minimum competence.

Commercial migration has been an American corollary from the first day the European misfits put the Atlantic Ocean behind them. Specifically, we see that early surveyors were often “learned in England” or “from back east” or “worked under Tiffin’s Instructions”. It’s not uncommon to see historical accounts of surveyors being imported to the frontier and overseeing local labor. Simply put, building competence is more a function of education and experience rather than where one particularly resides.

Lately I’ve been harping on about the commonality of court cases among various states. The feedback from readers all over the country reflects the same idea. A retracement surveyor serves the same function in any state court. A similar trend is being recognized in the jurisprudence arena. The lawyers have already embarked on a path to mobility through their licensure process.

The Uniform Bar Exam is a set of testing mechanisms prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. It has been adopted by a little over ⅓ of the U.S. States. The focus is on general legal concepts rather than intricacies of any particular state’s laws. The objective is to provide a uniform way to measure performance across the country.

I seem to not care about mobility until I need to get a license in another jurisdiction. I’ve taken four individual state tests. Most were not exceptionally overbearing but redoing the application process was a big drag. The tests seem to effectively either measure my memorization skills or my ability to reference material in an open book platform. The exception was the State of Oregon. I believe that only a surveyor could pass this test and that’s a good thing. I would recommend the format as a benchmark for a national test.

That leads me to this issue’s Thought Leader. Patty Mamola, P.E. is one of those folks you can’t help but admiring. Besides being an accomplished Professional Engineer, she is the Executive Director of the Nevada Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors. She served as the first female president of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Patty is a non-nonsense operator that puts her money where her mouth is. I’ve watched her in action at NCEES as she diplomatically advances licensure to adapt with mobility. Oftentimes she’s outnumbered but stands as a true champion of her cause and yes, she prevails.

Much like Neil Armstrong with his heroic “one small step”, Patty took the first small step to mobility of licensure. In 2017 she guided Nevada and Wyoming to a revolutionary interstate pact that created true mobility for engineers in both states. Under the agreement, an NCEES Model Law Engineer who applies for licensure in either state can choose to be licensed in the collaborating state. Respective application and licensing fees will still be required, but an applicant only completes one application to become licensed in each state.

I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the signing of the agreement. I admit many of us were awestruck with how Patty engineered a solution through a barrier once considered immovable. Today I am fortunate to have Patty share her insight as this issue’s Thought Leader.

About the Author

Jason Foose

Jason Foose is a Professional Surveyor licensed in multiple jurisdictions.