PLSO The Oregon Surveyor November December 2020

12 Vol. 43, No. 6 The Oregon Surveyor  | Featured Article S herlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went camping in the moors as a requirement of an investigation. Sherlock looks up into the sky and asks, “Watson, would you be so kind as to look up and tell me your observations.” “Well, I see stars, planets, and the moon, Sherlock.” “My dear Dr. Watson, what conclusions can you derive based upon your observations?” “Themoon is ina synchronous orbitwith the Earth. It circles the earth at a speed which mathematically balances the centrifugal force versus the gravitational attraction. If the speed of the moon is even a little slower, then the moon will crash to the earth and if the speed is even a little faster, themoonwill fling its way out of orbit. Furthermore, the planets are also mathematically aligned in their orbits around the sun. Johannes Kepler invented calcu- lus in order to understand the orbits of the planets. Likewise, the stars are also moving in mathematical harmony with the center of the galaxy. I see mathematical precision, order, and predictability. That is the conclusion I am drawing from my observations. What conclu- sions can you make, Sherlock?” “Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent!” Forgive me if you have heard this one before, but in this case I think this sto- ry illustrates the dichotomy of the skills we employ as land surveyors. We rely on the skill set of Dr. Watson, as we use mathematics and coordinate geometry to calculate positions and boundary corners, but we absolutelymust rely on the skill set of Sherlock Holmes in that we need to not only look analytically at the numbers, but also incorporate a wide range of facts and evidence such as parole evidence, occu- pation lines, conditions of corners, deed documents and their changes over time, and we need to take a forensic look at as many facts aswe can inorder todetermine what went wrong when a deed doesn’t fit a fence or if a property line goes through a building. In the best of circumstances, these two different skill sets work in per - fect harmony with each other, but they can also be at odds with each other. Even though our profession requires both themathematical skills of Dr. Watson and the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes, our efforts to sell our profession to the next generation are aimed at the Dr. Watsons almost exclusively. We keep on trying to sell high school students the notion that surveying is a practical application of math- ematics, and this is true to a small degree, but no surveyor will ever be competent using math alone. Our efforts to reach into high schools are based almost ex- clusively on trigonometry with programs such as Trig Star, and yet we have yet to make even a single concerted outreach effort into the selling of detective work of researching a chain of deeds, using a metal detector and a shovel to locate an ancient fence line, or pounding the ground trying to find that one old geezer who can offer a plausible explanation as towhy a deed linemisses a fence line by 66 feet. The results of selling the Dr. Watson More Sherlock and Less Dr. Watson By Lee Spurgeon, PLS, Education and Outreach Committee Chair mathematics-based approach have been, by and large, a monumental failure. How do we know our efforts are failing? I am going to suggest that themetric of our fail- ure is that we are coming nowhere near the numbers of new surveyors we will need to replace those surveyors who are, or soon will be retiring. We are not even enticing the best mathematicians into our profession. Given that surveying is pret- ty much an uber-cool profession yet also fulfilling and worthwhile, which offers a certain amount of respect and prestige, the fact that we are having extreme diffi - culty in our recruiting efforts is probably an indication that we are doing something wrong. By focusing on mathematics as the gateway to our profession, we are missing out on some of the best can- didates for becoming high-quality surveyors in that we completely ignore the detective aspects of our profession. The Whole Point This brings me to the point of this whole article: Perhaps it is time for us to re-evaluate the way in which we are try- ing to sell our profession to the next generation of potential surveyors. Is selling the Sher- lock Holmes detective aspects of our profession the best way to proceed? Honestly, who knows? Maybe your vision and ideas of future outreach efforts may be the best path, but it is important to start the conversa- tion so we can move forward in the most insightful and efficacious way we can. My feeling, based upon personal ob- servations during job shadows, is that marketing our profession as a type of detective work will be a lot more success- ful than marketing our profession as a branch of applied mathematics, which is what we are doing now. If you turn on the television and view the available shows we mass consume, clearly a third of all American television shows deal with de- tectives or forensic police work. (The other two thirds consists of lawyers and doc- tors, because in television land there are really only three professions.) From the