Alumni

John Blesh

  • Civil Engineering & Surveying

After 17 years as a professional land surveyor, Surveying Technology graduate John Blesh continues to thrive in a field he genuinely loves. From collaborating with engineers and contractors and learning new technologies to exploring legal aspects and diving into historical data, the constantly evolving field keeps him engaged and hungry for more.

 

John is the on-site professional land surveyor for the Wayne Township Landfill and owner of JN Blesh Surveying, LLC.

John Blesh
Real-World Ready

Advice from the field

Curious about a career in surveying? Here's what John has to say.

A Successful Surveyor

Someone pursuing the surveying field should be good at math, be willing to keep up with modern technology, and have an appreciation of history. They should also enjoy being outdoors and be willing to learn computer programs such as CAD.

Exploring Career Paths

Take the time to meet with and understand what people in the professional world are doing. Look closely at their day-to-day operation and imagine yourself doing those jobs. Pick a profession that will make you happy.

The Future

Job placement is very high for a skilled surveyor and CAD operator/designer. The 3D modeling for GPS guided construction is growing exponentially and there is going to be huge demand in the very near future for surveyors with the skills to model and manage grade systems.

TAKING THE LEAD

Q&A with John

WHAT'S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?

A typical day in the field could involve checking grades, confirming design elevations, or collecting as-built data. Performing boundary surveys means spending all day in the woods, often in very scenic areas. Contract work could involve everything from subdivisions to laying out site facilities for utility companies, municipalities, or private companies. My LLC work is mainly comprised of larger woodland tract surveys, subdivisions, and elevation surveys.

SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A LOT OF VARIETY?

Yes. There is very little risk of getting bored as the type of work varies greatly from job to job. Each survey presents its own challenges. Obstacles can be anything from field logistics (including weather, accessibility, or challenging locations), to design specs, to challenging boundary resolutions where historical data is lacking. In a typical week I could go from a remote mountain location, to a construction site, to searching old maps in a county basement.

HOW DO YOU USE TECHNOLOGY IN YOUR JOB?

The office work involves the preparation of design data or processing of site data. I spend a large amount of time performing site design for the landfill which includes 3D modeling for use in GPS guided heavy equipment operation. The landfill uses the most modern machine control systems for site grading and construction. I will take the engineering design file and convert it to a workable file that can be loaded into the GPS guided machines, which includes two Caterpillar compactors, dozers, and excavators.

HOW DO YOU STAY CURRENT WITH THE LATEST & GREATEST?

Anyone entering the surveying profession would have to have a willingness to learn new technologies. The equipment and software are always changing and it is important to stay up to date with the most modern technologies.

There are many resources to stay up to date including online learning and professional organizations. Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors offers resources to surveyors including online classes, a three-day annual seminar, and other educational opportunities throughout the year. 

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR CAREER?

The most rewarding parts of my job are the relationships I have made. I have made many close connections over the years. I will meet with other surveyors to discuss old projects, meet and review projects with clients who will often have interesting insight, and collaborate with engineers and contractors.

I have been employed over the years by people who have become great mentors and lifelong friends. One person in particular is Wayne E. Engle, PLS, who is always more than generous and willing to share his wealth of knowledge. I try to follow his example and share what I have learned with younger surveyors. It is also very rewarding to take my kids and nephew out on jobs with me and get them exposed to the profession.

WHAT'S THE COOLEST PROJECT YOU WORKED ON?

The most challenging survey I have worked on was a 6,500 boundary survey in the remote mountains of northern Pennsylvania. This project took most of the winter. Every day we would chain up all four tires on the truck just to access the site. We used snow shoes to prevent from post holing into the snow. At one time we thought we were going to miss our deadline as the spring rains had washed out the only road to access part of the property. It made it inaccessible even by foot. Fortunately, we were able to procure some heavy equipment to rebuild the culvert and re-establish the crossing.

Real-World Ready

"I was intrigued by a profession that had so many things to offer: the opportunity to work outside, learn new technologies, learn legal aspects, explore history, and have a creative outlet in the drafting of plans."

John Blesh

An ideal balance

A career in surveying gives you the flexibility to spend some of your day in the office and the rest in the field. 

Inside

Collaborate with team members and use the latest software to prepare and process data.

An ideal balance

Outside

Travel to job locations and enjoy time working in the great outdoors.

An ideal balance

Programs

Civil Engineering & Surveying

Take the lead creating the infrastructure where we live, work, and play.

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