Shane Dalton joins the growing list of Younger Geospatial Professionals who have contributed their inspiration to the Spotlight Interview series. How about you?
- 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?
I attended Pittston Area High School in Pennsylvania, and after graduation was accepted at Wilkes University as an Electrical Engineering major (Yikes!). After my first year at I decided to change things up and decided to enroll at Penn State as a Surveying Technology major, which is their 2 year program.
I was very much involved with surveying clubs/organizations at Penn State including the Surveying Society and in my later years Lambda Sigma. After graduating with an associate degree, I decided that I hadn’t had enough education and decided to continue the next semester at Penn State in obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Surveying Engineering.
I continued being active in college clubs where we volunteered often throughout the community, had fundraisers and invite speakers to give presentations on surveying and related topics. I was the guest speaker chairman of The Surveying Society and President of Lambda Sigma in my Junior Year and was given the Club Member of the Year Award in both clubs in that same year.
After graduation I have worked towards obtaining as much experience with GNSS data collection and analysis and LIDAR. I have been trained to use OPUS projects and have a good deal of training and experience in Leica point cloud extraction and manipulation software.
- 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?
Surveying kind of fell into my lap. I have a friend that attended Penn State before. He recommended that I look into their programs due to my bad experiences at a previous college. I met with an advisor and was insistent on getting in and getting out as fast as possible. However, the community that is within the surveying field pulled me in. There was a specific change in my attitude toward learning once I was around a group of people that I felt I had a lot in common with. So once I was in I was hooked and everything else just fell into place after that.
- Can you provide a timeline with description of the positions you have held in the surveying profession to date?
During the last two summers of my time at Penn State I had two internships in Chantilly, Virginia where I aided crew chiefs in the field with stakeout, topographic surveys, ALTA’s and boundary surveys. It was noted that I also had strong interest in GPS technology and geodesy so I had the opportunity to spend a decent amount of time with the lead GPS expert at the company that I interned for.
After graduation I was hired at my current employer which I will be at for four years in May. I started in the field assisting field crew chiefs and due to personnel changes, I moved into the office rather quickly where I began my career as a survey computer. In this position I started with basic jobs such as utility and small topographic surveys and was promoted to a Senior Survey Computer rather quickly due to my ability to learn the daily tasks rather quickly. I now work on large topographic surveys, VDOT transportation surveys, GNSS control networks, computing stakeout, and point cloud extraction for various projects.
- Please describe some of the technology that you have become skilled in using and any challenges associated with using it on a daily basis.
In my career thus far, I have used many types of CAD programs, such as Carlson, Civil 3D and Microstation. The main challenge with using these programs which are all very similar, is that they all have different ways of navigating and execution of tools. Also, a lot of these new CAD versions can be a bit difficult to use sometimes since there are so many different intricate tools that I would believe a majority of people within the community don’t know about. A lot of days with the new Civil 3D version is a new learning experience.
- Do you think this will be a long term career for you? Why or why not?
I do not think I will the in surveying for long term, but I find a lot of value in the experiences I have gained so far and what will come in the future. This is because I have other aspirations to go onto a separate branch in the geospatial community, whether it be in geodesy or remote sensing.
- What are a couple of ideas that could attract more young people to the surveying profession?
I think one major factor is lack of knowledge of the surveying career path. I remember telling family and friends that I was enrolled in surveying and I got a lot of puzzled looks and I think every surveyor has some type of experience of a civilian asking if our equipment is a camera.
- Any further thoughts or comments, perhaps how you see all of this technology changing the world?
I think the biggest change to surveying will be the implementation of the new datums in 2022 along with the changes to the signals from satellites. Once this is in full effect, surveying with GPS equipment will be possible just about anywhere and this will completely change the way a lot of company’s field crews work in the future. I believe this will most likely be another technological advancement that will be a problem with future employment.
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