PLSO The Oregon Surveor September/October 2021

10 The Oregon Surveyor | Vol. 44, No. 5 Member Spotlight SPOTLIGHT Member By Vanessa Salvia Dan Nelson Branch Engineering S ome people struggle with what their career will be, but Dan Nelson is not one of those people. Of course, it took a little fine-tuning for him to end up where he is now, as a Principal of Branch Engineering with offices in Philomath and Springfield. Nelson figured out in high school that he wanted to be a civil engi- neer, but did some drafting classes that he didn’t love. “I figured out that wasn’t the best route for me,” Nelson says. In college he had an in- ternship where he worked on a county road crew on a survey group that wanted civil en- gineering students to be on the survey crew. “I did that for a couple of summers and between that and going to school for en- gineering, I realized that if I became a civil engineer I would have to work behind a desk every day,” he recalls. “And I said to myself, ‘surveying is a related field with a similar salary and I get to work outside all the time.’ So I made the decision to switch from civil engineering to surveying.” In high school, Nelson’s “really fantastic” drafting teacher ledhimtoconsider adrafting- related education such as architecture. As a kid, Nelson says he used to draw floor plans for houses for fun. Though he had a design mentality, he saw himself having more enjoyment and possibilities for ad- vancement with surveying. And working outside is still preferable to a desk job, even when it’s in 100 or 25 de - gree temperatures. “I really liked the appeal of working outdoors all the time, but be- cause of the ability to advance so quickly in the surveying field, I now own the com - pany and I sit behind a desk every day!” he says with a laugh. “I love it when I can get outside and get back to doing what I love rather than running the business side of things. But, you know, you gotta do both.” As a principal, one of the things he deals with a lot is flood insurance and flood plain development. “Lane County is one of the unique counties in the state where we have two major rivers, as well as the Ore- gon coast environment,” says Nelson. “We have a lot of flood plain, and it’s not your typical surveying area. So I’ve kind of set myself up to be one of the local experts in that field, somewhat out of necessity but also because if I get to work alongside the river or the beach every day, then so much the better.” Nelson now lives in Eugene with his wife, Amy. He’s an avid golfer, loves to moun - tain bike, flyfish, and snowboard. He and Amy travel a lot and go to other countries or states several times a year. “We don’t have any kids, so we can get away with doing that,” he says. Nelson grew up in The Dalles and went to Oregon State University for a couple of years and then realized the civil engi- neering program wasn’t for him. Then he transferred to Oregon Institute of Tech- nology in Klamath Falls for the geomatics program. A lot of his friends were attend- ing the University of Oregon at the time. While it was a five-hour drive to get back