Erastus Chege: “Surveying is a science and an art”

Erastus Chege
Chege is a full member of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya. Currently serving in the ISK Council as the Chairman of the Young Surveyors Committee. Part of the team that launched the Young Surveyors Committee on June 30, 2016, as a vehicle through which issues of young surveyors are discussed and articulated. Chege currently works with Kenya Railways as an Assistant Land Surveyor.


Qn: So tell us about the Young Surveyor Network. What’s the spirit of the group in brief?

Ans: The Young Surveyors Network brings together ISK members who are below the age of 35. In its first 6 months, student members have been the most active as they have been the most available for YSN activities and events. The aim of YSN is to create a forum through which young surveyors, valuers, land administrators and building surveyors are able to network and interact with one another on matters to do with the profession. Young members are also able to find useful initial contacts to facilitate a beginning in their career.


Qn: So what is the status of YSN under ISK? And what is the relationship of YSN with the one under FIG if any?

Ans: The ISK consists of various chapters, representing the diverse aspects of this profession. The Young Surveyors Committee is a committee of the ISK through which matters afflicting the interests of young surveyors are addressed. The YSN was formed to bring together the young members and listen out their views, and encourage their participation in the Chapters, where matters pertaining to the profession, including advocacy issues, are addressed. Membership into YSN is drawn from membership in ISK. The cut-off age is 35 years. The ISK is affiliated to the FIG. YSN Kenya therefore has a connection to YSN FIG through ISK’s affiliation to the FIG.


Qn: Let’s talk professionalism, you are a Surveyor, how has the transformation in Geospatial industry in terms of technology changed your working practices and habits?

Ans: True, geo is very dynamic. I’ll give you a snapshot of how fast things have developed. At the turn of the century, the T2 theodolite was the trending equipment. Less than 18 years later, we have evolved through the total station and RTK equipment, which have become very advanced. We are now at an era where we want to advance with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs) to turn over a job of even an acre, which was hardly possible with aerial mapping and survey. These developments have enabled a surveyor to produce very precise and highly accurate surveys in 30% of the duration that it would have taken in the year 2000. Advanced software has also automated cartography and enabled production of atlases, which is a series of thematic maps about a site. Free satellite imagery is enhancing surveyor’s output by enabling visualization of output data for the client’s appreciation. These trends and the highly dynamic environment requires that the surveyor to dedicate some of his professional or “free” time to research and find more efficient ways of serving the clients.

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Qn: As a Surveyor and with Kenya Railways Corporation, what are some of the Survey tools you use mostly?

Ans: We are in active use of RTK GPS equipment for management of railway assets as well as setting out and control of new railway developments such as the Standard Gauge Railway; linear tools such the distance measuring wheel for measuring of distances on the railway track; and software such as ArcGIS, QGIS and AutoCAD Civil and Map 3D.


Qn: You are emerging to be an industrious leader in the Geospatial industry now. Pass a “Call to Action” to all professionals in this industry regarding streamlining ourselves as a community.

Ans: The Geospatial industry is highly dynamic. New technologies are continuously being created, tried, tested and deployed. Software is also advancing, bringing in new and super products that are likely to entice a client and make them stick. My advice is that you keep up with these tools and technologies. Spend at least two hours a week to study the trends and try new ways of churning out the desired output. Surveying is also a science and an art. A skill is best displayed by its quality of output and content of the final report as well as the final presentation. Dedicate some time to enhance report writing and presentation skills. Read a book whenever you have time and practice public speaking on any given opportunity. Share new knowledge [and old] with upcoming young surveyors in tertiary institutions. Mentor these young people so as to help the profession grow and nurture confident professionals for the benefit of the general public. I would have so much to say, but I’ll stop at that for now.


And for last word. What is the one interesting stuff you’re working on in 2017?

I am trying to see if it is possible to combine a surface topographical survey and a geo-technical survey to create a 3D topo (combining the surface and subsurface information) of the site. Watch this space.