WCCC uses $250,000 donation to launch land surveyor program

Phil Castle
Phil Castle

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A land surveying program is scheduled to start this fall at Western Colorado Community College in Grand Junction, new instruction initiated by a $250,000 donation from a surveyors organization.

WCCC will offer the only accredited land surveyor program in Colorado and one of only a few such programs nationwide, in turn helping to meet increasing demand for surveyors, said Todd Beers, president of the Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado. “We’re very excited about this.”

Betty Bechtel, vice president of the Colorado Mesa University board of trustees, said she’s excited as well about launching a program at a time when decreasing funding for higher education presents challenges. “This is a prime example of the private sector working with public education,” Bechtel said.

The donation from the Professional Land Surveys of Colorado will be used to recruit and train faculty, purchase equipment and cover other expenses related to starting a land surveying and geomatics program at WCCC, a division of CMU.

The program will offer a two-year associate degree and online certificate. Students who complete the degree program will fulfill the requirements to take the professional land surveyor licensing examination. Students who’ve already earned a four-year college degree can complete online instruction to qualify for the state licensing test.

The program will train students to use equipment and technology to gather and analyze data, complete surveying tasks and resolve boundary conflicts. Students also will gain the knowledge needed to earn state licenses as professional surveyors.

Beers said the Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado was interested in starting an instructional program and found a good match with WCCC and CMU. “There were a lot of receptive people there.”

The Global Positioning System, robotics, drones and other technological advances have made it possible to handle surveying tasks with smaller crews. Tasks that used to require a four-member crew now can be completed with one person, Beers said. But at the same time, surveyors require training to understand and use that technology, he added.

And since the average age of surveyors is 58, a new generation will be needed to succeed those who will retire from the profession, Beers said. “We need surveyors across this state and across the country.”

It’s a matter of making more people aware of career opportunities — and now the training offered at WCCC, he said.

For more information about the land surveying and geomatics program at Western Colorado Community College and other instruction offered at WCCC, call 255-2670 or visit the website located at www.coloradomesa.edu/wccc.