Students, alumni connect at statewide surveying conference

A group of students and faculty at a conference booth

Penn State Wilkes-Barre surveying engineering students and faculty and alumni at the Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors (PSLS) annual conference.

Credit: Penn State

DALLAS, Pa. — Students, faculty and alumni of the surveying engineering program at Penn State Wilkes-Barre had the opportunity to meet during a recent statewide surveying conference, sharing experiences and forming real-world connections.

The Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors held its annual conference in Hershey, providing an opportunity for hundreds of surveying professionals and students to network and learn more about their field.

“Our campus has a longstanding history with the PSLS, going back many years,” said Director of Campus Development and Alumni Relations Cara Green, who attended the conference along with Alumni Relations and Stewardship Officer Jacqueline Warnick-Piatt. “The society served as a key strategic partner for the creation of the campus bachelor’s degree in surveying program when it was developed in the late 1990s. We appreciate the opportunity to continue our relationship with them.”

Eleven students from Penn State Wilkes-Barre attended this year’s conference, four of whom had previously been at a PSLS conference. They were accompanied by Henrique Oliveira, assistant teaching professor of surveying engineering and co-coordinator of the program at the campus.

“The importance of Penn State Wilkes-Barre for the surveying community was clear due to the significant percentage of alumni attending the conference,” Oliveira said. “It was also amazing to see former students who graduated a few years ago and some from decades ago aiming to help the program somehow. Current students and alumni had an excellent opportunity for networking. One side was discovering the surveying community, and the other side was getting to know their potential future employees or business partners.”

Lucas Carpenter, who was one of the Penn State Wilkes-Barre students in attendance, said being immersed in the profession was an excellent way for him to grow his knowledge of his major and chosen career path.

“While I was at the conference, I felt very inspired to pursue this career and education. The professionals I was in contact with were very supportive of me and my fellow classmates, giving us business cards and phone numbers,” Carpenter said. “It seemed like every time I turned around, I was meeting another Penn State graduate. Many of the people I met had been in my shoes and getting to hear how the degree I am earning has set them up to be successful made me even more proud of where I’m studying. The conference gave me an opportunity to learn how they studied and got to where they are today.”

Warnick-Piatt said she was able to introduce alumni to current students in the program as well as Oliveira, who joined Penn State Wilkes-Barre last summer.

“Students were able to talk with alumni about their career paths post-graduation and introduce them to some different options within the surveying engineering field,” she said. “In addition, we were able to make connections with companies from around the state that offer a variety of internship opportunities, many leading to employment for students. At one point during dinner, the president of the PSLS asked all students at the conference to stand. Every student in attendance at the conference was from Penn State Wilkes-Barre.”

Mackenzie Hixon, another student in the program, agreed the conference was helpful for her as well.

“My attendance at the conference benefited me as I networked with prospective employers that may help me in my future career. I was also able to explore new cutting-edge surveying equipment,” she said. “I got to speak with several Penn State Wilkes-Barre alumni. I gained knowledge about the program and was provided with insight about future career opportunities.”

In addition to students, Green also noted the large number of Penn State Wilkes-Barre alumni at the conference.

“As the only accredited four-year surveying engineering program in Pennsylvania, we have a lot of alumni who attend the conference every year,” Green said. “We wanted to connect with those alumni in person and connect them to our program as it looks today. We were able to share updates about the campus and let them know how, as alumni, they can connect with our current students.”

Matthew Warner, vice president and director of survey at Honor Engineer Company, is a graduate of Penn State Wilkes-Barre and a member of the campus Industrial and Professional Advisory Council who attended the PSLS conference.

“I think student attendance at the annual conference is very important so they see what recent and past graduates are doing in their careers and the different possibilities and specialties that are out there in the world. They get exposed to the possibilities of positions they could potentially aspire to hold,” Warner said. “It also benefits the companies and sole proprietors to hear and see the caliber of students the program is turning out. It gives them an opportunity to interact with students and potentially start conversations as to potential job opportunities.”

Green said, “It was really great to see our alumni so excited to see the Penn State Wilkes-Barre logo when they walked by and see their interest in how they can help alumni and faculty in the classroom. We are looking forward to continue connecting alumni and friends with students and career and internship opportunities in the community.”