This interview with Joe Wolf is the fifth Lidar News Younger Geospatial Spotlight Interview. Congratulations to Joe for what he has accomplished in a short time and please think about sharing your story with us.
Please provide a recap of your post high school education and training. Do you have any licenses or certifications? Are you a member of any organizations?
After high school I completed my college General Education courses. I am pursuing my part 107 for drones and have been toying with the idea of getting my PLS in Idaho. I was a member of the California Land Surveyors Association.
When did you become interested in the surveying profession and what are some of the things that made it a career that you wanted to pursue?
I originally left electrical design to pursue 3D laser scanning when a friend (now owner of our company) introduced it to me several years ago. After seeing the capabilities of reality capture and how it would have a tremendous effect on not just my industry but almost every industry I decided to make a change in my career. The ability to visit a site once and be able to capture all the data requested and have multiple disciplines be able to access everything they needed without visiting the site had me sold.
After working with Matthew at a local survey firm I took a job with Stantec as a survey and 3D tech working in their survey department. That is when I became interested in the surveying world beyond reality capture. I fell in love with boundary resolution. Researching old maps and legal documents to pull all the data needed to send out crews with everything needed to establish control and perform their jobs was just fun, like solving a puzzle with weird pieces. In the field looking for old monuments and signs was always interesting, looking for tags on telephone poles and scribe X’s on old wells to locate a monument was interesting.
Can you provide a timeline with description of the positions you have held in the surveying profession to date?
I started with reality capture at Dewalt Surveying as a 3D tech. I worked field – to – finish as we learned our way through the new industry. I also worked as a chain man and survey drafter when scanning was slow. About 2 years later I went to Stantec to be a 3D and survey tech, again doing field – to – finish reality capture and project management. I also performed office work for the survey side, project set up, research, drafting and completion.
I stayed with Stantec for another 2 years taking on more responsibilities of both 3D and surveying. I have been taking courses for my LSIT prep and constantly growing in reality capture training. I left Stantec after 2 years to work for Nexus 3D where I am now have the title of senior 3D specialist. As a small startup company we all take on pretty much every role. With all the combined experiences and industries we came from in the past I knew Nexus was going to be a strong company with unlimited opportunities.
Please describe some of the technology that you have become skilled in using and any challenges associated with using it on a daily basis.
For hardware, I am familiar with several different laser scanners, drones and GPS/total stations. I am an expert in AutoCAD, FARO Scene and Recap. There are a dozen or more point cloud related software I am extremely familiar with. The two biggest challenges we run into is the data size – point clouds are data heavy and require quite powerful computers to process and model the data. The other being clients. Many are still unfamiliar with reality capture and how best to take the data from point cloud to the deliverable needed. This requires a lot of interaction and flexibility with each client on every job. That what we specialize in – flexibility.
Do you think this will be a long term career for you? Why or why not?
I see this always being my career. The reality capture industry is always changing and growing. I can always keep learning new things and that to me is the most important thing in a career – constant growth.
What are a couple of ideas that could attract more young people to the surveying profession?
AR/VR is currently on of my favorite “new” integration to reality capture. With AR/VR becoming more common place in the entertainment industry and many fresh professionals having been exposed to it for entertainment purposes, it makes it an easy shift for them to take it into a professional career.
Drones are also becoming more common place with the ability to use them for photogrammetry, lidar, thermal, and marketing material creation. It makes them a great replacement for many traditional forms of data collection. Plus, who doesn’t want to play with drones?
Any further thoughts or comments?
I am excited to see just how far this industry will grow with so many advances in tech on the horizon! Fresh minds and limitless opportunities will truly open so many opportunities for those willing to stay in a constant state of growth and learning.
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