MSU students get hands-on experience for surveying careers
If someone surveyed the job market for in-demand professions in Kentucky, they would learn there is a high demand for people with skills to survey for various construction and real estate projects. Morehead State University is helping to meet that demand.
Students in the construction and civil engineering program can hone their skills and graduate ready for jobs in the surveying profession through a partnership with Curd Surveying and Land Consulting Inc., owned by MSU Instructor Joe Curd.
Growing up in Falls City, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., Curd graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Affairs in 1978 and a Master of Science in Geography in 1988, both from Virginia Tech. The Kentucky state government hired him to do property valuation maps in Morgan and Rowan counties. Curd started his surveying business in 1985 and was hired by MSU in 1990. He has taught courses in geography and construction, and civil engineering.
Curd not only knows what it takes to be a licensed surveyor, he knows Kentucky needs more of them. He said Kentucky has only issued approximately 400 surveying licenses since 2016, and the increased land transactions that followed the COVID-19 pandemic meant qualified surveyors were in high demand.
"There's a real desperate need for licenses, and we hear that from a lot of people," he said. "There's been a huge new demand. We probably have two years of backup work."
He teaches many classes for students who want to get their surveying license and need the required 24 credit hours in the discipline. These include classes in surveying principles, construction surveying and route surveying. He also teaches courses in construction management and boundary law, a class crucial to helping surveyors determine locations and land ownership.
As much as he teaches concepts in the classroom, Curd knows the best way for students to understand what goes into surveying is to do it. He frequently stages hypothetical scenarios on the MSU campus for students in his classes to do surveying, and he also offers students internship opportunities for college credit working in his surveying business in Morehead.
"It is such a hands-on type of profession," Curd said. "If you can combine that with some practical experience in taking the classes themselves, that is the best learning tool in a very practical type of profession."
In addition to providing internships to MSU students, he frequently hires them. After purchasing space on East Main Street, Curd has MSU graduates who manage day-to-day operations, like Dalton Risner (Class of 2018), Jonathan Bowling (Class of 2019) and Nick Stevens (Class of 2021). They each said they owe a lot of their expertise to getting hands-on experience early in Curd's classes.
"I actually began my internship (with Curd) my sophomore year, worked a year before I took the surveying class," Stevens said. "He tries to teach and prepare you for the work you can do. In the classroom, he's trying to give you the technical and mathematical (ways) of how to do surveying. In both aspects, he's just trying to help you learn."
In Curd's classes, MSU students are doing surveying that will contribute to very concrete results. Curd contacted Kim Oatman, assistant vice president for facilities and operations, in late 2022 after the announcement that MSU received funding for the design and construction of a new science and engineering building. One of the first steps was to prepare a boundary and topographic survey of the site. Curd proposed that MSU seniors in his survey courses provide the boundary and topographic survey for the project at no charge to the University.
"He and I both have that goal of, let's give out student experience in this because it's right here in front of us," Curd said. "I proposed the idea to them (students), and they loved it. They loved it and were like, all right, this is real."
Oatman said some of the components of the survey include:
- Survey of all boundaries, including approximately 14 different tracts and deeds.
- Topographic survey of roughly six acres of land.
- Research of deeds, descriptions, plats, and utility maps.
- Survey of all utilities on and adjoining the site.
- Survey and characterization of a public street to close the road.
"After evaluating it, MSU decided that this was a great idea, not only for the hands-on experience that the students would gain but also it would allow the project to get an early start, prior to July of 2023, because no funding was required for this student project. The survey is on track to be completed in June of 2023," Oatman said.
Curd knows the demand in the job market, the challenging terrain of Eastern Kentucky and the unique family legacies that come with the land ownership of its citizens. He wants to do his part in the classroom and the field to turn MSU students into the qualified surveyors the state needs.
"The more we can do to assist the surveying profession at Morehead State, the more we can do to assist. The people of Kentucky in the surveying profession," he said.
You can reach Professor Joe Curd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about MSU's Department of Engineering and Technology Management, email email@example.com or call 606-783-2090.