School of Technology

Insider View—Surveying Engineering

Jacob standing next to a sign in the snow

Jacob Heck

Sitting at a desk job from 9 to 5 never truly appealed to me; I was looking for a career that would fulfill my need for adventure and allow me to spend time outdoors. I was also interested in a major that would provide me with a variety of day-to-day tasks. These criteria led me to the Surveying program at Michigan Tech.

When not in class, our professors encouraged us to attend professional meetings to learn from local professionals working in the fields. Our professors also organized an annual field trip with a local surveyor to retrace the steps of the original surveyors of the Upper Peninsula. Because we use modern equipment in class, it was always interesting to me to use equipment from the past to reinforce our professional foundation. I also enjoyed spending time in the county archives researching the work of other surveyors.

Although I did not participate in a senior design project, I had the opportunity to work with my fellow classmates at a national competition. The most memorable competition was when we worked with the Michigan State Police to conduct an accident reconstruction and performed a survey on the simulated accident. At the end, we presented our results to a group of nationally renowned surveyors. During the summers, I worked as a surveyor, where I would perform surveys of varying types, research deeds, and complete drafts in the office. But working as an intern for the Michigan Department of Transportation was perhaps my most rewarding experience. As an intern, I would work with a student-run team to schedule and complete GPS surveys across the state.

Thanks to my positive classroom experience at Michigan Tech, I decided to continue my studies for a PhD in geodetic science at Ohio State. As part of the program, I perform field surveys for both gravity and GPS in the deep field,  in areas from Bolivia to Antarctica. I’ve learned the world of surveying is full of possibilities, rich in history, and full of adventure. I can go just about any place I dream of with my degree!

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