Surveyors Week: Meet Sam!

Name: Sam Lipscomb

Surveying Discipline: Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Years in the field: 5

Hobbies outside of work: Trying new breweries, riding my bike, and playing video games

Fun fact about yourself: For my thesis in college, I spent around 60 hours forcing my now-fiancée to walk around Central Michigan University’s (CMU) campus with me from 11pm to 3am in order to map nighttime illumination. The data was used to assess perceived safety of the campus at night. The research ultimately won first place in an IMAGIN competition for graduate students.

If I weren’t a surveyor I would be…: A Statistician or Data Miner. I took a few courses for each subject at CMU to go along with my GIS degree and found the classes to be enjoyable. Both allowed me to analyze and find patterns in data (much like in GIS), but I had to utilize a different set of tools to do so.

When did you know you wanted to be a surveyor?
I had no clue what field I wanted to go into when I graduated high school. I tried a few courses my freshmen year at CMU to see what I liked, including computer programming and athletic training. Toward the end of my first year, I found that I really enjoyed science and technology. GIS happened to combine these two, and it helped that I ended up being pretty good at it.

What would most people be surprised to learn about the surveying field?
I think people would be surprised to learn that GIS requires integrity. Maps are simply a model of reality, and that model can be easily distorted through different processing and visualization techniques. This influences the way maps are interpreted and could potentially lead to wrong conclusions being made, so it is up to me to provide an accurate representation of the information.

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on at F&V, and why?
I think my favorite project would have to be one of my earlier ones, mapping Union City’s electrical system. It was the first project where I was truly independent in the sense that I controlled the schedule of data collection, the method of collection, and how the data was processed. It was exhausting at times, but I learned a lot about my abilities and perseverance through this project and developed some skills that apply to projects today.

How has working at F&V helped shape your life and/or career?
F&V has provided me the resources to learn on the job and improve my professional skills. F&V has also provided me the stability to buy a house and settle down in West Michigan, allowing me to stay close to my family.

If you could give your younger self career advice, what would it be?
“Be patient and everything will fall into place.”