States Licensed in: AL
Firm: Fagerman Technologies, Inc.
Why did you choose to become a Surveyor?
My dad worked for the county as the Equalization Director (this is in cold, cold Michigan) and also farmed. From him our family learned a lot about community leadership, animal husbandry, farming, logging, and good stewardship of the land. I went through high school working outdoors all the time feeding cattle, baling hay, working fields (corn and oats), and even baling Christmas trees. I loved working outdoors but not so much the cold and wet. In school I excelled at math and science. Surveying was a natural fit for me. There were a few other factors: my older brother was three years ahead of me studying surveying, Ferris State (College) was only 45 miles away with an excellent program, and I couldn't justify the expense of studying at Michigan State or U of M. Everything pointed me towards Ferris for college and it was an excellent choice.
After four difficult but rewarding years at Ferris I realized I was about to be faced with the reality of "no more school" and the hard winters in Michigan, moving to a warmer climate, or... an unheard of alternative, graduate school. I choose Purdue University to study photogrammetry even though I preferred geodesy. This again was an excellent choice. Ferris was great and Purdue was the icing on the cake for me.
After Purdue I moved to Alabama and worked for Intergraph for 14 years doing software development, then returned to Purdue to work on my PhD which wasn't meant to be, and eventually worked toward my AL surveying license. In 1999 I opened my own business (see www.lidarusa.com). I have done a limited amount of "real surveying" - enough to know that I respect those who deal with snakes, poison ivy, ticks and chiggers, dogs, inhospitable neighborhoods (people and terrain), the client's neighbors, realtors, construction crews, and the legal system. And the heat and humidity.
My story is a bit different from most surveyors. It is not the story of the high road or low road, just another road. I love all aspects of surveying but feel most at home in the very high tech end of the business. I love creating software and now hardware as well.
I would do it all again with no hesitation. Why did I choose surveying? I don't think I had a choice.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I think it's easiest to answer this by answering the parts I like the least. I do not like the legal dilemma's with no cut and dried answer. The math and field work are simple. It's the question of balancing all of the information at hand with the judicial leaders of the jurisdiction and the clients. This is the most difficult and can be the most intriguing part of the surveying profession. This is largely the reason I chose the technology road to travel. Indeed, I find the technology the best part of all. It provides the opportunity to innovate and grow. There are no bounds or restrictions.
What is one of the most interesting things you have seen or done in this profession?
I have traveled all over the world as a result of technology. I think the people I have met are the most interesting aspects of all of the work. You know you are out of your element when you walk around a restaurant and point at other people's food to order because you are the only one speaking English. Yes, surveying can take you just about anywhere.
What is the one piece of advice you would like to pass on to others wishing to join this profession?
Do it! There are jobs in this profession. It will never die away. The variety of work is unlike that in most other professions. The financial rewards are available. It is not impossible to do whatever you want in this area. You can spend your entire career working for somebody else, the government, owning a one man shop, or owning a multi-state business. The foundation is very important. Start out on a solid foundation and you can build whatever you dream. Work hard, make it happen. Give back more than you take.