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News & Press: MSS News

MSS Spotlight: Whitney Bonnett

Friday, March 9, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ebonique Ellis
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When did you start surveying? I haven’t been surveying for very long. I started in the spring of 2015.


Why did you get into surveying? I originally got into surveying because of my cousin. At the time, he was working for a professional land surveyor and needed help with some field work. He knew I love being outside and wasn’t afraid to get dirty. He had no idea how much I would love it!


Describe one of your best experiences while surveying? One of my best experiences was on a short break we took to cool off. We were spending a few minutes in the shade. I was on the ground with my back against a tree when I felt something on my shoulder. I brushed it off and squealed, thinking it was a spider, which are not my favorite. When I saw it was a snake instead I picked it up and held it for the rest of the break. We laughed about that for a while!


Describe one of your worst experiences while surveying? Thankfully, I haven’t had any horrible experiences, yet.  


What type of surveying makes up most of your work? At the moment I work in the office. I am a CST, level one and one of the CAD technicians at the office. I help process data from the field crew, help get the field crew information they need, research, and assist with some design work and any other tasks that may be needed. The little bit of field experience I was able to get in helps me a lot with my work in the office.  



Who are some of the surveyors that influenced your knowledge in the profession (in school or on the job)? There are four people who have influenced my career in surveying. The first would be my cousin who introduced me to the world of surveying and taught me most of what I know about field work. Next, would be my friend Teresa Cochrun. She is the one who told me about a job opening where she is employed and trained me in CAD. Much credit is due to my boss, Bill Ewald, Prof. LS. He is the surveyor that is preparing me to become a licensed surveyor. He takes time out of his busy schedule to teach me more about the profession. He is also the one who told me about the scholarship through MSS and encouraged me to take some classes. Lastly, my advisor at the community college I attend has helped me a lot. Diane Calloway, P.E., is the one who convinced me to actually enroll in the degree program for surveyors at Del Tech. She tracks my progress and keeps in contact with me.


How was the process for the MSSET scholarship application? The process was amazing, so simple and easy, when I got the scholarship, I just ran around my house excitedly exclaiming to my husband that, “I got the scholarship!” If it wasn’t for the scholarship, I don’t think I would have been able to attend Delaware Technical College. College is such a great amount of money and if I didn’t get that financial support from Maryland Society of Surveyors, I don’t think I would have dedicated so much time and expense to my education.


MSS sent the check directly to me and that allowed me to stagger the payments across my four semesters in college. The scholarship was really ideal for an adult student.




Why enroll in a degree program? What do you hope to gain from this educational experience? From the research that I’ve done, a degree allows you to get the licensing requirements sooner than just through field experience alone. However, that is not the only reason. I feel like what I’m learning in my classes is almost impossible to learn in the field.


I’m taking a soil class right now and there is no way that I would learn this much about soil and soil testing in the field. So, there are definitely many benefits to gaining a degree. It gives me the courage to actually feel like I’m qualified to be licensed.


Did you get paid more after passing the CST Level 1 exam? What are the benefits of taking the CST level exams? I did get a pay raise at the next annual review I had. I'm sure that my certification had something to do with the amount of my raise, although it was not immediate. I think there are many benefits to the exam. One is that it gave me the confidence that I knew more about surveying than I gave myself credit for. Next, your name is listed on the NSPS website, which possibly opens up job opportunities and connections. It gets your name out there in the world of surveying. The increase in pay doesn't hurt anything either. It also shows your employer that you are serious about your job and that you have put the effort into increasing your knowledge to be more qualified in your position. Any certification or license takes time, effort and initiative that reflects well on you. At the very least, I figured the CST exams are good practice for the test to become a Prof LS.


How has being a MSS member as a technician been beneficial for you? It’s been beneficial for me. The CST Exam class is only available to those who are members and without that class, I don’t think I would have been able to be pass the level 1 CST Exam. The class let me realize the format of the test and how it is done. If I was not a member, I would have never of had that opportunity. Now, I’ve signed up for level 2 and I will be taking the level 2 exam preparation class.


What advice would you give to new surveyors? The advice I would give to new surveyors is to listen and apply any suggestions given to you. Having the humility to accept that you do not know everything will allow you to learn and grow even more. Also, patience is important. There is A LOT to learn about in the world of survey and it is easy for you to get frustrated. If you continue to hang in there and listen to what the people trying to teach you have to say your frustration will ease over time.


When you are not surveying, what do you like to do?  When I am not surveying, I am usually studying, or doing homework, or attending classes. During the times I actually have a few minutes, my husband and I love staying active. We like spending time with our two fur babies, kayaking, tennis and camping. We also enjoy volunteering together. Also, I love to cook, try different ethnic foods and attempt to cook those foods!



How has surveying changed since you started? I haven’t been surveying for very long at all, so I have not seen many changes. The biggest change has been the use of drones in surveying. Drones were just coming on the scene for small scale survey work when I got into the field. Now, they are almost common place.


What do you think the society will look like in twenty years? The society is great. I think they are really keeping up with the new trends. I don’t think there is anything to change. I think it’s great that MSS is doing the CST exam and doing so much effort to recruit the younger surveyors. I don’t think other neighboring states’ societies really do everything MSS has done.



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