Surveying a viable career option for PC students

Photo by EvyJo Compton| Jordyn Langley (left), human resources administrator at Lochmueller Group, and Sean L. Suttles (right), chief of surveying at Lochmueller Group, stand with the surveying equipment they brought for students to observe.

Photo by EvyJo Compton| Jordyn Langley (left), human resources administrator at Lochmueller Group, and Sean L. Suttles (right), chief of surveying at Lochmueller Group, stand with the surveying equipment they brought for students to observe.

EvyJo Compton

Staff Writer

Parkland, the only community college in Illinois to offer a certificate in surveying, recently held an open house showcasing companies hiring surveyors.

Parkland offers all of the surveying credit hours needed to get the certificate as a weekend program and offers all of the related classes as well. Getting a surveying certificate is the first step in a longer journey to becoming a professional land surveyor.

Parkland is a part of the Illinois Community College Career Agreement that allows students from all over the state to take advantage of career programs not available at their home colleges.

“If a student’s local community college doesn’t have, let’s say, a certain health profession, that student could come here for in-district tuition rate. Parkland area students could go to another community college that offers something we don’t have like a culinary arts certificate,” Aimee Densmore, the Agriculture, Engineering, Science and Technologies (AgEst) Pprogram director said.

“Parkland is the only community college in Illinois to offer a surveying certificate,” she said. “We also offer programs including construction management, welding, and many others. It isn’t just specific to the AgEst field either, but covers a variety of career programs.”

As the only community college in Illinois to offer a surveying certificate, Parkland has come up with a weekend program to suit all sorts of students.

“A lot of students are already working in a surveying type field,” Densmore said. “Because they are working, it makes it hard for them to go to school full-time. Some have families, some live pretty far away. The weekend program really helps all students to get the surveying certificate.”

The students who participate in the weekend program meet once a month, and go over pre-recorded lectures before their class.

“It is twenty-four credits in twenty-four months,” Densmore said. “They meet once a month for their hands on parts of class. They have pre-recorded lectures that they watch before their meeting once a month. We repacked the program recently, and there had been a significant increase in enrollment in the weekend program.”

The journey to becoming a professional land surveyor is straightforward. After receiving their bachelor’s degree, students must also have a certain number of surveying credits and must work under the supervision of an already certified professional land surveyor.

“For starters, to become a professional land surveyor, you need six related sciences,” Densmore said. “…[S]pecific math pre-requisites, twenty-four surveying credits…Parkland’s weekend program covers the twenty-four surveying credits, and Parkland can also cover any other credits that a student may need to become a professional land surveyor. Once a student has finished with all of their credit hours, the student then has to take their first test, which allows them to work under the supervision of a professional land surveyor, and then take their final test.”

There are quite a few places that students who are wishing to become a professional land surveyor could look forward to working at. Parkland showcased these companies at their Surveying/Mapping Open House on Nov. 16. The event lasted two hours and had nine firms and companies represented.

One of the companies represented at the Open House was the Champaign County GIS Consortium. Tom Laue, a GIS technician and professor at Parkland, represented the company.

“The Champaign County GIS Consortium was started in 2002,” Laue said. “We work to gather information from different resources so that the community can use these resources at will. For example, if a city annexes a parcel of land, we will be able to provide information about the parcel of land. We are in the process of finding different ways to present the information we have found as useful as possible.”

To work in the GIS field, students have to have a variety of background knowledge. They also have to be flexible, as the position would call for a variety of skills.

“A lot of people who go into the GIS field have a degree in geography,” Laue said. “Though this is the majority, a lot of people don’t realize that you need data base knowledge, a base in IT or programming, as well as excel and mapping knowledge.”

Another one of the companies represented was the Weihe Engineers, Inc. Brady Kuhn, the vice president of the company, represented Weihe Engineers.

“If a student at Parkland is really looking into getting a position at Weihe or any other company, they should look at the size of the company, how long the company has been around, as well as the values,” Kuhn said. “To get a position, a student should have two and four-year degrees in land and surveying, followed by four years under a professional land surveyor, but it varies by state. Here at Weihe, we get a lot of interest in our UAV/drone surveying as it is the leading technology in the field. We take down the data from the flights and turn it into survey data.”

Another company that appeared at the Open House was Lochmueller Group, Inc. This company incorporates civil engineering, surveying, environmental, GIS, CAD, and computer science all into one firm.

“We have a water/waste department,” said Jordyn Langley, human resources administrator at Lochmueller Group. “We also do traffic services. We accept any professional land surveyor with a background in surveying, environmental engineering, or construction engineering.”

For more information about Illinois Land Survey, please visit IPLSA.org, or go to parkland.edu and find “Geographic Information Systems” under “Agriculture/Engineering Science and Technologies” under “Academics.”