Wisconsin Geospatial News

Glen Schaefer retires

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It’s been almost 2 months since Glen retired and I already miss his advice and wisdom. After more than 23 years with NOAA –involved primarily with coastal hydrography — Glen moved to the private sector as a consultant in soils.  Then he came to the state for 16 years with WisDOT as a geodetic engineer in the Surveying and Mapping Section prior to retirement at the end of 2012.

While at WisDOT, Glen was actively involved with the Wisconsin Height Modernization Program (HMP) and in implementing the Wisconsin County Coordinate Systems. Essentially, Glen was my “go to guy” for geodetic and surveying-related questions. He was especially helpful assisting me with obtaining up-to-date HMP data for our online ControlFinder application.

Before Glen left WisDOT, I had a chance to chat with him about the pros and cons related to advances in technology. Glen was quick to say that, “Today, it only takes a matter of minutes to get 3-dimensional positions anywhere using GPS technology whereas in the past, it would take a half-day using differential leveling.” He also noted it used to take three people to run levels, and now one person can obtain the same results by simply using a GPS receiver. However, on the negative side, Glen noted many of today’s “newer” surveyors lack experience, training, and education to fully understand what they’re doing with the technology. He stated that while  technology makes obtaining the answers easier, it doesn’t validate accuracy. Glen senses today’s surveyors rely heavily on GPS coordinates for station descriptions versus writing a detailed condition report. GPS is not a replacement for good descriptions and stable monuments.

One of Glen’s passions is writing station descriptions. He also stated three things to keep in mind when setting a geodetic survey monument: stability, accessibility, and recoverability. Glen says “to be a successful monument, you must be able to be found”. Departing thoughts from Glen:  adapting to change can be fun and exciting; use the newest technology available, but learn and remember the basics; and finally, always check your work!