VU hosts surveying technology camp showcasing in-demand careers

VU hosts surveying technology camp showcasing in-demand careers

Two female campers learning to use electronic technology at Surveying Technology Summer Camp at Vincennes University

June 08, 2022

VINCENNES, Ind. – High school students experienced a different kind of summer camp during their three-day stay at Vincennes University. The new and unique Surveying Technology Summer Camp was filled with hands-on learning.

Campers were busy learning to use electronic instruments. They measured elevations and distances, jotted down data in field books, and drew sketches. The students also got a taste of college life.

Robinson (Illinois) High School rising senior Lotty Bonnell was one of the campers.

"I am looking into going into architecture, and surveying is kind of like the other side of architecture,” Bonnell said. "I am starting to see that surveying might be something I could possibly do in the future. After a presentation, we would then go out in the field and apply what we just learned. Doing all of the activities, I can see myself going into surveying."

VU is one of only a few universities in the U.S. offering a degree in Surveying. It offers an associate degree and certificate in Surveying Technology and a bachelor’s degree in Surveying Management. VU’s degrees and certificates prepare graduates for careers as surveyors and surveying and mapping technicians.

In addition to exploring the land surveying profession as a career choice, campers networked with industry professionals, stayed in a residence hall, and enjoyed a night of bowling. VU Survey Technology Program Coordinator Jessica Hess organized the camp.

Campers use a surveyor's level
on the Vincennes Campus.

"I was very pleased with the number of students we had interested in attending the camp," Hess said. "For this first go-round, we were only set up to take about 20 campers, and actually had to turn some away. The high turnout is encouraging that we can start making some headway in bringing more young people into the profession."

There will always be new neighborhoods, roads, developments, and infrastructure built, and land surveyors play a crucial role. Using the latest technology, they make precise measurements to determine property boundaries and provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects. They also collaborate with architects, realtors, developers, attorneys, and other professionals.

The median wage for licensed surveyors in 2021 was $61,600 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports the average wage for a surveying and mapping technician was $49,910 in 2021. Surveyors who own a firm can reportedly earn six figures a year.

Demand is high for land surveyors. The National Society of Professional Surveyors reports the annual number of retiring surveyors exceeds the number of those entering the surveying profession.

According to the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors, land surveyors do not ask if they can find a job. Instead, they decide where they would like to work.

Campers perform calculations using
a surveyor's level as Selby looks on.

VU alumnus Ryan Selby served as one of the camp's volunteer leaders. He is a project manager for Indianapolis-based American Structurepoint Inc. He is also Vice President of the Central Indiana Chapter of the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors.

Selby graduated from VU with an associate degree in Surveying Technology in 2006. He then earned a bachelor’s degree in Surveying Management from VU in 2018.

"Demand for surveyors is very, very high," Selby said. "The demand is there worldwide. Companies like mine are fighting over students when they graduate. You can definitely find a job fairly easily. The average age of a surveyor is close to 60. We need to be bringing in what is going to be retiring out. Right now, we are not filling that void. It’s going to be very important for things like this camp to help us start filling that gap.”

Bonnell is considering job shadowing with a surveying company in her hometown, and she hopes the camp will help her in her quest for an internship.

"One of the (camp) volunteers said if I go into surveying that I will have a lot of job opportunities because I am a female, and there are not a lot of females in surveying," she said.

Selby is a longtime employee of American Structurepoint Inc. With the help of a VU professor, Selby began interning for the company when he was still a VU student.

He gets excited when sharing all the possibilities the profession offers.

"Surveying is really unique because there are so many different avenues you can go down,” Selby said. "It can appeal to a wide variety of people. If you like being outdoors, there is a sector for you there. If you like computers and modeling, there is a sector for you. If you enjoy history, you can find a place for that.”