Jon Braswell graduated from Louisiana Tech in 1993 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering, and began a career in land surveying immediately after. Today he is the Survey Supervisor at S.E. Huey Company in Monroe, LA. He uses his technical communication skills extensively while supervising three different land surveying crews and reporting important information to engineers and clients.
Verbal Communication Responsibilities
Mr. Braswell emphasized the importance of clear, concise communication when calling and texting his crews. Mr. Braswell, who was once an outside land surveyor, stated that, in his current job as an office supervisor, his communication responsibilities have changed. When working in the field he would survey one job, but now he must coordinate multiple surveying jobs by talking with engineers and calling surveying crews out on the field.
Verbal Communication with his survey crews outside of the workplace is also important for Mr. Braswell. They are constantly on the move in and around the Monroe area on different projects. He says, “Everyday it’s vital that [I] constantly keep the channels of communication open with all my crews.” This requires Mr. Braswell to communicate with members of his crew via texts and phone calls on the job and at home.
Land survey crew measuring out in the field.
Legal Importance of Written Communication
Technical documents factor into Mr. Braswell’s job. The accuracy and precision of technical documents is imperative for the success of his crews’ assignments. The engineers rely upon the design information and the documents provide back up support for legal liabilities. For instance, Mr. Braswell will write out a legal description for his client’s land which is used when making the deed for the land. Another written document, called a field book, contains land measurements which he and his survey crews can be held liable for in court. Land disputes rely heavily on the professionalism and accuracy of these technical documents. Mr. Braswell said when one of his clients are in a land dispute he has to “go to court to testify the boundary.” He further stated, “Your documentation is very important to your field work. It lets them know what you did.”
Technology’s Impact in Communication
Land surveying technology has evolved over the past two decades of Mr. Braswell’s career. One of the most challenging tasks for him has been adapting to newer computer design programs required in the office. Mr. Braswell has had difficulty trying to “draw on the computers instead of on the board,” so “trying to learn on the computer is tough.” While field communication has become easier with the rise of cell phones and technologically advanced field equipment, the unfamiliar computer programs have complicated the communication process with engineers.
Technical Communication with Engineers
A large part of Mr. Braswell’s job is communicating his surveying work with engineers. Engineers receiving accurate design information is critical. To reiterate just how critical, Mr. Braswell said, “Engineers couldn’t design without the field surveyors doing their work, so I communicate with them every day.” He says one of the most challenging parts of working with engineers is the fact that he has to “deal with 6 engineers on a daily basis” and that “different projects are constantly going.” Coordinating constantly with his field crews and 6 different engineers can get overwhelming.
The Big Picture
Mr. Braswell’s biggest role is being able to intertwine his field surveyors’ work with his clients and engineers. He’s the communicator and coordinator of the required process before the construction of the engineers’ designs begin on a piece of land. This role is why effective technical communication is such an important skill as a Survey Supervisor.
Matthew Ydarraga, Guest Blogger