From The Editor: The Need for Mentoring

A 414Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

Welcome to the Fall edition of LiDAR Magazine. Whether you’re reading this at home or work, print or digital, you may have noticed promotions for INTERGEO or GEOINT. These are key Fall shows for us, providing an opportunity to reach new readers and writers. INTERGEO, held in Hanover, Germany this year, represents somewhat of an anniversary for LiDAR News as this is where Spatial Media first started to publicly promote the platform 2 years ago. Thanks to all for your ongoing support. I think we have just scratched the surface of the 3D revolution.

For a recap of the Survey Summit (to close the loop from our last edition) recently held in conjunction with the ESRI User Conference in San Diego, California see the article in our sister publication The American Surveyor.

Big Newsin this edition we are introducing a regular series of columns. Ken Smerz will be looking at the "Business of Laser Scanning" Lewis Graham will discuss "Random Points" and I will , interview 3D/laser scanning "Industry Pioneers" which in this case is , Michael Raphael founder of Direct Dimensions. If you would like to nominate someone for this honor please let me know.

I also wanted to briefly follow up on the issue of professional survey associations. I had the pleasure of meeting the incoming President of the AAGS-American Association of Geodetic Surveying, Michael Dennis at a recent TRB meeting. Michael works for the NGS as a geodesist. Most of us can only wish to have his training and knowledge, but after spending a few hours listening to his presentation on the recent datum realization I began to think that this may be the professional survey organization for those of us interested in geomatics and 3D.

I plan to follow up with Michael to discuss how we can work together. Please let me know what you think. I believe we need a professional survey organization to act as a foundation for all we are trying to accomplish.

Which leads me to the main topic for todaymentoring. If asked, I think we all have someone that we can identify as a mentor. The role of a mentor is critically important to the development of a young person’s professional career as well as their personal development. For a lot of us, including me, a professor was a mentor.

Unfortunately, as digital technology takes over much of the hands on, and yes I do mean this literally, training that mentors and teachers used to provide is being "lost in the GUI" This is where . we spend most of our time these days, especially early on in one’s career. How many of us have just "taught ourselves" how to use a software application, or heard from someone more experienced that, "you just have to jump in and learn it". The GUI is impersonal or even worse "anti-personal".

There just does not seem to be any time these days for mentoring, or what some might call grooming. You have to get lucky. Someone has to decide to take the time to explain things and to pass on the hard lessons they have learned. They have to take an interest in you as a person.

Maybe that isn’t any different than it was BDBefore Digital, but it seems to me that in the digital world there is less chance of this happening, and if it does it is often not one-on-one; it is more likely via a seminar or webinarnot very personal.

At the same time there are a couple of examples of formal programs that have been established to encourage mentoring. The ASCE-American Society of Civil Engineers has established a variety of mentoring programs. These include career, project and section/branch mentoring as well as online resources which include best practices and lesson learned.

The AIA-American Institute of Architects has also established a formal mentoring program which they refer to as mentorship. They provide tools for those looking for a mentor, people who are offering to act as a mentor and tools for firms that want to formalize their internal mentoring programs.

I would like to see a formal program where as 3D geospatial/geodetic professionals we could act as mentors at our local high schools. This is where I think we could do the most good; at least here in the U.S. where kids are falling behind the rest of the world in science and math, while at the same time many of the professionals are getting ready to retire. There is no question there is going to be a shortage of trained and experienced engineers and scientists.

A great model for this could be Dean Kamen’s program known as FIRST. This highly successful, high school age program is focused on robotics. Teams at high schools are paired with technical people from local industry to build and then compete with their robots. I have attended these competitions. It makes a local high school football game seem reserved.

As the Chair of the USIBD-United States Institute of Building Documentation education committee we are also interested in developing a mentoring program. Perhaps the AAGS would be interested in this idea, as well. As my father used to say, "There are two kinds of people in the worldtalkers and doers" I think the time has come for doing. Please let me know if you have any thoughts on the idea.


Gene Roe, LS, PE, PhD Managing Editor & Co-Founder LiDAR Magazine

A 414Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE