Surveyors Week 2022: Celebrating our Surveyors

March 23, 2022

National Surveyors Week was established in February 1984 by then-President Ronald Reagan and is celebrated each year starting the third Sunday in March. The purpose of the week is to develop the public’s understanding of land surveying through classroom contact, media, and visible public service. The work surveyors perform for the benefit of the public often goes unrecognized. This year, we decided to take a moment to recognize several of our surveyors and allow them to share their stories and advice, as well as their experiences at CEC and what being a surveyor means to them.


Pete Brothers

 

 

Pete BrothersPrincipal

 

Q: How would you describe CEC’s work environment?

A: I’m in the Monroeville office, so I’m not in the corporate office of CEC. But we’re a large office; we got over 50 employees. It still has that family kind of atmosphere. The people I work with, I do things with them after work hours. I’ve been able to develop some good friendships with that. And everybody understands we all got a task to do, and we need to get it done. We work together collaboratively. The thing I think sets CEC aside a little bit more than other firms is the way I’ve been able to collaborate with multiple offices. I have three or four offices here that are close to me that I can reach out to and get support. That’s also really nice.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a surveyor?

A: [Most of] our projects are a day or two, maybe a week at most. And so, the change in scenery or the change in the project is what’s always intrigued me because it’s a different task, a different problem, a different solution about every other day. It’s fast-paced for me, and I’m a fast-paced person. It just fits me well, and then the other thing was being able to work outdoors. I don’t get to do that much now that I manage a department but just being able to be outside and get a different scenery and things like that.

Q: What has been your favorite project to work on so far?

A: I’ve only been here three years, but one of my favorite projects was the U.S. Steel project that we worked on down in Braddock, [Pennsylvania]. The reason I liked that was that it was a very large-scale project. It went on for more than a year, which is typically not something that survey is involved with that long. It had a lot of different moving parts. We were involved in kind of establishing the survey control, boundary work, and departure fee work. We were really involved with the beginning side of it, of setting the project up correctly for the construction of it. And then we got to use a couple of different technologies: We used our UAV LiDAR machine. We used a UAV photogrammetry machine. We used GPS, conventional instrument scanning. We used a bunch of different technologies on that project, and from that, we were able to develop some additional work with them that was out of scope that we didn’t plan on. That was probably since I’ve been here one of the highlights.

 

 

Logan Burdwood, Survey Technician II

 

Q: Could you describe CEC’s work environment?

A: It’s all over the place, not in a bad way though. I’m someone who gets to work in the field and the office, so I get to see all the ins and outs of projects, which is really exciting and interesting. In the office though, people are fun and friendly. It seems like everybody knows what they’re doing pretty well, and it’s a good thing to feel.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a surveyor?

A: I enjoy the outdoor aspects and being involved in a lot of different prior parts of projects when it’s construction or land boundaries, and there’s a little bit of history there too which is something that interests me a lot as well. I think my favorite part about it is the variety and how much surveying involves.

Q: What are you looking forward to in your future career as a surveyor?

A: Getting licensed and having a stamp. Being a professional, as they say, but just continuing to grow because there’s a lot of new technology that’s coming out for surveyors. What surveyors are responsible for now is a lot different than what it used to be. It’s pretty exciting.

 

 

Jon Cummings, Survey Technician IV

 

Q: What qualities about CEC have made you want to stay with the company?

A: It’s really employee-oriented. They bring in all kinds of different things to treat the employees to, like the food trucks, happy hours, things like that. They help get all the employees to know each other because you get to socialize with the Civil department and all the other departments we work with. It’s cool that we can interact with the other departments in a social setting more than a work setting.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a surveyor?

A: There’s a good variety of work. Sometimes I work outside, sometimes I’m inside, a variety of different projects, locations. I work in Pennsylvania, parts of Ohio, and West Virginia. There’s a lot of work in different areas and different types of projects to work on, so you’re always working on something different.

Q: What are you looking forward to in your future career as a surveyor?

A: I’m working towards getting my license. Hopefully, in the next couple of months here I’ll be a licensed surveyor in [Pennsylvania] and then expand to Ohio and West Virginia. That way I’ll be working on projects as the lead and as a project manager.

Dennis Dinkelacker

 

 

Dennis Dinkelacker, Project Manager III

 

Q: What qualities about CEC have made you want to stay with the company?

A: I love working here; the attraction of the different disciplines, the market groups. Working for a corporation, my fear was I was going to be looked at as a number. Once I got in here and met everyone, it was just like family. It’s a great feeling.

Q: What inspired you to become a surveyor?

A: Well, I love being outside. When I started this years ago, I originally wanted to operate heavy equipment or become a pipefitter like my uncle. I went down to Cincinnati State and got into construction. I went the survey route because it was a bit more interesting to me. And then a few years later, I got to work. I took my [Surveyor in Training exam] and Fundamentals of Serving exam. I got my Ohio license in ’95, and then I got my Kentucky License in 2000.

Q: What qualities do you believe a surveyor should have to be effective?

A: Being able to teach I think is the most important. But also, as I tell people, I think in life in whatever you do, if you don’t learn something new every day, whatever it may be, I don’t think you’re challenging yourself enough.

Vince Paparella

 

 

Vince Paparella, Principal

 

Q: How would you describe CEC’s work environment?

A: Collaborative. I think we try to focus as much as we can on ingenuity and not being afraid to try out new things and explore new options. I think it’s very, very open, and a lot of good things that go on here. We are often having discussions about the work we do and how to do it better. So, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy being here.

Q: What inspired you to become a surveyor?

A: We joke about the fact that I don’t think anybody ever becomes a surveyor intentionally. To be honest with you, I had a friend whose father was looking for help on a summer job. I helped him one summer, and then I just fell in love with it. It’s the variety of work that we do. It’s the chance to see places to do a different kind of work, and it’s the ability to work outside. But just the variety and the chance to work with the technology that we do. Pretty much everything we do now is cutting edge. That’s really why. 

Q: What qualities do you believe a surveyor should have to be effective?

A: Flexibility I think is an important quality. I guess, stick-to-itiveness. A lot of times our schedule is very variable. You have to be willing to be able to work long hours and kind of stay on the project until the job gets done, and sometimes that means you’re going to stay a longer day, and so it doesn’t lend itself well to people that want to work from A to B all the time. Because a lot of times you get to a project, and there’s something you didn’t expect so you kind of got to lengthen your day. And I think, honestly, creativity too because every time you get to a job there’s something new that you can attack differently. Our job is to find out what’s the most cost-effective and the best way to get the job done, and that varies from project to project.

 

 

Brian Souva, Vice President

 

Q: What qualities did you like about CEC? What made you want to stick around?

A: I love that they have really neat projects. I’ve worked on so many different large projects that I never did at a smaller firm. And technology, we are so up to date on the latest and greatest tools out there for surveying that a small firm just doesn’t have access to. I like working with the different survey managers around the company that have different experiences on different types of projects, and there’s a great collaboration between us.

Q: Could you describe CEC’s work environment?

A: I’ve always thought it was great. I could call somebody. I could call Darin Raibourn in Oklahoma City, Todd Babcock in Athens. I got several people. I’ve known them for a long time. We just chitchat, sometimes has nothing to do with projects, just checking how everything’s going. It’s a great environment. I have access to anybody throughout the chain if I have a question which at a lot of companies you never get out of your office. You can’t get access to people outside your office. Here, you can go all the way up to the top.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a surveyor?

A: I was always an outdoorsy type of person. Originally, I went to college for forestry, and that’s why I picked up surveying. It forced me, and you had to learn how to survey. I like going outside seeing all the different properties and different terrains, and the other part is you’re never doing the same thing. Every area you go to every type of project is different. The properties look different. Trying to solve a boundary sometimes it’s like a big puzzle. You have to solve multiple properties around you to figure out yours, and it’s challenging.

Q: What advice do you have for young surveyors? 

A: First, I would recommend they get a four-year degree in surveying. Right now, the average age of the licensed surveyor in this country is 60 years old. So, we’re aging out. This is a great opportunity for young surveyors to excel in their careers. If they get the motivation to go out and take online degree programs or get that four-year degree, they can really excel.

 

 

Kent Wakefield, Survey Technician II

 

Q: How did you hear about CEC, and what made them stand out compared to other employers?

A: Well, at the time, I hadn’t been a surveyor before but loved working outside, and CEC had the perfect opportunity that checked all my boxes and what I wanted, and it was an entry-level opportunity to learn on the job and hit the ground running immediately. It was just the perfect opportunity.

Q: What inspired you to become a surveyor?

A: Honestly, it just kind of lined up with my interests as far as wanting to work outside five days a week, and it just fit that need for me. I didn’t know if I was going to like it at first, but I ended up falling in love with it.

Q: What are you looking forward to in your future career as a surveyor?

A: Just continue to grow. I am looking forward to more opportunities and learning with the new technology, getting my drone license, becoming proficient in AutoCAD. There are just a lot of opportunities technically that it provides and that I’m really excited about.

Warnke, Scott

 

 

Scott Warnke, Senior Project Manager

 

Q: What do you like most about working at CEC so far?

A: On a personal level, just the people. I work in a smaller office. There are 20 people in Toledo. CEC is obviously a big company, but it’s got the small office feel, and I like it. I went to the [Annual Planning Meeting]. Everybody was very nice there. It’s just a good working atmosphere with all the people.

Q: What part of your work as a surveyor do you enjoy the most?

A: Actually being outside. That’s a plus. We’re busy and need to be outside, just being outside and enjoying the weather. Although, we’ve been out in the cold weather. It’s not as fun during that time or when it’s super-hot either. So, probably the weather and the math part of things, just calculating, doing some calculations on the information.

Q: What advice do you have for young surveyors?

A: Don’t take any shortcuts. Definitely learn how to survey in the field; learn how to find boundary control. I think that’s one thing that maybe a lot of people don’t appreciate, especially laypersons. They don’t understand what surveying entails. And when you’re doing a boundary survey or even simple control for a project, make sure you have a good sense of how to find the control for the project.

About the Author


CEC Staff

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) provides comprehensive market-oriented consulting services to advance client strategic business objectives. CEC is recognized for delivering innovative design solutions and integrated expertise in air quality, civil engineering, ecological sciences, environmental engineering and sciences, manufacturing infrastructure services, survey/geospatial, waste management, and water resources.

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