ASPRS Pecora 18

I recently attended the Pecora 18 Symposium organized by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS).  This was the 18th such meeting held since the 1970s, and they take their name from scientist William T. Pecora, who was integral to NASA’s Landsat program and served as director of USGS from 1965-1971.

Co-located with the symposium was the Management Association of Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) fall conference and Geospatial Excellence Awards.  In an interview with Professional Surveyor Magazine (see our upcoming January issue), MAPPS’ executive director, John Palatiello, outlined one of the primary differences between ASPRS and MAPPS: that MAPPS represents private firms, whereas ASPRS is comprised primarily of government and academic members.  This makeup of ASPRS is evident in this year’s symposium in at least two ways.

First: The symposium was held in Herndon, Virginia, near the home of USGS and quite close to Dulles International Airport, one of the major airports serving Washington, D.C.  If you’re not familiar with the Northern Virginia region, one way to think of it is as one enormous corporate campus—host to some of the government agencies and many of the government contractors involved in photogrammetric mapping and remote sensing.

Second: A look at the agenda of nearly five days of workshops and seminars offered at the symposium reveals a variety of topics and presenters from a wide range of government agencies and academia, such as BLM, USGS, and NASA, the University of Florida, UCLA, and Ohio State.

Some of you may say, “Why should I care about this?  This is not a survey conference.  ASPRS is not a survey organization.”  And, in some respects, you’d be right.  But let’s take a quick glance at just three things: technology, education, and jobs.

Of the roughly 20 exhibitors on hand, several were names surveyors easily recognize: manufacturers such as Leica, Optech, and Riegl.  While there were certainly hardware and software vendors not familiar to surveyors, much of the technology involved is the same or similar to what we use.

One of the exhibitors was a professor from the University of Mississippi that now offers a graduate certificate program in Geospatial Information Science & Technology.  “But I don’t live in Mississippi,” you say?  No problem, the program is offered fully online and with in-state tuition rates—no matter where you live.

And a representative from Booz Allen Hamilton was more than happy to chat with me about opportunities available for government contractors.  In fact, she handed me a 12-page brochure, focused simply on career opportunities at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.  Positions noted range from geospatial intelligence analysts to customer relations managers to business managers.

Now, if you know me, you know I’m not a big fan of increasing the number of government employees.  And I’m not advocating that all surveyors should become GISPs or remote sensing analysts.  But what I do want to point out with all of this is that there are many experienced, intelligent surveyors out there, with a specialized skill set, looking for work.  And here are growing fields, looking for qualified people and utilizing similar technologies.  Further, we all know education and degree requirements are a hot-button issue, but even that appears to be moving within reach with more affordable, convenient programs being offered, like that at Mississippi.

Maybe there are some opportunities out there—we just need to know where to look.

About the Author

  • TJ Frazier, LS
    TJ Frazier, LS
    TJ Frazier is the magazine's editor for surveying and has more than 20 years experience in the surveying profession, currently as senior land surveyor for VanMar Associates in Mt. Airy, Md. He also worked in survey equipment sales for Loyola Spatial Systems, now part of Leica Geosystems. He earned a bachelor of sciences degree in business at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. He is married and has two daughters. Frazier can be reached at

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