Today ISG turns to one of our own, Principal and Practice Group Leader Dan Stueber PE, PLS, to get to know his experiences as a professional land surveyor, former President and seven-year member of the Minnesota Society of Professional Surveyors (MSPS), and longtime ISG employee.
Q: What got you interested in land surveying?
My way to land surveying has been a little unorthodox. I started as a civil engineer dealing mostly in land development, but we frequently worked with land survey teams to oversee platting, lot layouts, etc. My interest in the profession really grew from there, and was also underscored by introductory courses I enjoyed while getting my civil engineering degree at South Dakota State University. One particular professor did a great job demonstrating the dynamic aspects of land surveying, as well as the networking possibilities across the profession, and his mentorship was really the first introduction to the field.
Q: A shift from civil engineering to land surveying – what has that career path been like?
In the early 2000s, when ISG was really starting to see significant firm growth, we saw an opportunity to add land surveying to our client services. I decided to give it a shot. We ended up bringing in another experienced land survey professional, and I was able study and learn under his guidance.
Q: What about the profession has changed the most since you started?
The evolution of surveying technology, no question. It’s advanced to the point now where nearly anything can be surveyed using 3D scanning, which is quite impressive considering just a few years ago the technology seemed abstract. When I started, land surveyors were using GPS pretty regularly, but it was still pretty new and not especially sophisticated. Today field professionals are bringing drones and iPads out to the project site, noting site details where they stand, and uploading a geo-tagged narrative of complex survey data in real time.
Q: What do you see as a major opportunity on the horizon for land surveying?
In 10 years, how, what, and how fast we survey could look completely different. It’s going to be important that we continue to embrace this technology as it evolves – and I don’t just mean in the practicing industry. There’s an opportunity to start thinking about the ways we educate and train our next generation of land surveyors differently. The profession used to be very mechanical, hands on. Today and in the upcoming years, technology literacy will continue to gain momentum as a differentiator between both individual professionals and firms in their entirety, and there’s a real push to integrate modern soft-and hardware training into curriculums.
Q: How about a challenge?
Right now, only a handful of colleges in the Midwest offer two and/or four year degrees in land surveying, therefore maintaining relationships with these institutions and encouraging additional schools to adopt the major is a key challenge to sustaining the workforce. Likewise, it will remain important that we promote careers in the industry that do not require licensure, such as Crew Chief, CADD technician, project management, and research professionals.
Q: What has been most empowering about serving as President Elect, President, and now Past-President of MSPS?
The entire experience has really pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and grow my professional network of industry peers. It’s incredible how many colleagues I can call to pick their brain about a challenge or idea.
Stepping into a leadership position at MSPS has also opened my eyes to the sheer effort it takes to make a meaningful professional organization like this work – and all with the best interest of the members and profession in mind.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing individuals get charged up about a project or new challenge. Whether it be surveying a new site or splitting a property in a way that really maximizes the client’s investment, working with staff who are invested in what they do – and truly enjoy it – makes all the difference.
With over 18 years of experience, Dan leads ISG’s Land Survey Group, and manages a staff of experienced land surveyors, technicians, and project managers. His unique background in both civil engineering and land surveying empowers his work by highlighting the synergies across interdisciplinary site development efforts. He has served as President Elect, President, and now Past President of the Minnesota Society of Professional Surveyors (MSPS), and continues to collaborate with professionals across the state and beyond to promote the industry’s growth and sustainability. Dan has also been instrumental in the adoption of 3D laser scanning technology at ISG, and is a key member of the firm’s Ingenuity Group – a committee focused on driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of A/E processes and technologies.