Lambda Sigma

A National Honors Society for Surveying and Geomatics Students

We are gathered here today to initiate into Lambda Sigma you, who are majoring in surveying and have already distinguished yourselves scholastically. You are to be congratulated on this achievement and are encouraged to continue to strive for excellence in all of your endeavors.
The founders of this honor society had the insight to realize that scholarship, although highly important, is not the only requirement of a successful surveyor. Scholarship must also be accompanied by integrity and camaraderie. Just as the jacob’s staff which usually supports the compass might symbolize the primary requisite of scholarship, it is obvious that a tripod, which might symbolize the additional traits of integrity and camaraderie, would offer a more stable support and foundation for a surveying instrument and a successful professional career.
Realizing that you obviously know the importance of scholarship, and that camaraderie (good fellowship and sociability) will be developed in due time with experience and opportunity, we plan to concentrate today on the equally important requirement of integrity. This trait is exemplified by canons of ethics which most professional societies have adopted for their members. This is true of professional land surveying and we will review with you the code adopted by the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors. But first, what is a land surveyor?
One dedicated author, Dr. Ben Buckner, describes a land surveyor as possessing ten attributes which have been summarized as follows:
1. A modern land surveyor must know how to measure expertly for any purpose. He must understand error propagation and know how to control his errors to the extent possible for each job and estimate his probable error for statements on plats of survey.
2. A land surveyor must understand photogrammetry in order to make maps or coordinate the efforts of other specialists.
3. A land surveyor must understand geodesy and the many reference frames and datums that are used in professional practice to perform control surveys.
4. A land surveyor must know how to establish accurate positions and meridians for directions.
5. A land surveyor must be a planner and designer and must work with landscape architects and urban planners in order to layout safe, efficient, and appealing new communities.
6. A land surveyor takes pride in preparing maps and plats to make them portray the intended message in an appealing manner.
7. A land surveyor knows how to use and program computers for surveying and land subdivision problems.
8. A land surveyor understands drainage, sewage flow, and alignment and grading of various forms of circulation facilities necessary for land subdivision.
9. The land surveyor discussed here is a property surveyor of the first order. He must understand property law and survey history in order to conduct resurveys efficiently.
10. A land surveyor appreciates preservation of survey evidence to the degree that he is proud of his work and identifies his survey monuments with his registration number, provides adequate measurement for monument recovery, prepares clear and concise land descriptions, places his surveys on public record, continues his education to further improve his profession, and experiences the joy of being a highly useful servant to the public.
Now let us look at the professional ethics which should guide a land surveyor’s practice. The following are statements from the Indiana code:
"Honesty, justice, and courtesy form a moral philosophy which ... constitutes the foundation of ethics. The surveyor should recognize such a standard, not in passive observance, but as a set of dynamic principles guiding his conduct and way of life. It is his duty to practice his profession according to these canons of ethics. As the keystone of professional conduct is integrity, the surveyor will discharge his duties with fidelity to the public, his employers and clients, and with fairness and impartiality to all. It is his duty to interest himself in public welfare, and to be ready to apply his special knowledge for the benefit of mankind. He should uphold the honor and dignity of his profession and avoid any association with any enterprise of questionable character. In his dealing with fellow surveyors he should be fair and tolerant."
With regard to professional life , the code states that the land surveyor will extend the effectiveness of the profession by interchanging information with others and by contributing to the work of land surveying societies and other associations. The code considers it unprofessional for any land surveyor to advertise his work or merit in self-laudatory language or in any other manner derogatory to the dignity of the profession. In essence, the land surveyor will avoid all conduct or practices likely to discredit or harm the dignity of the profession.
In his relations with the public, the code states that the land surveyor will strive to extend public knowledge of land surveying and will discourage the spreading of false statements regarding the profession, that he will have due regard for the health and safety of the public and employees, and that he will express an opinion only when it is founded on adequate knowledge and honest conviction.
In relations with clients and employees, the code states that a land surveyor will act in professional matters as a faithful agent or trustee, that he will act with fairness and justice between client and contractor, that he will not undertake work which he believes will not be successful without advising those involved of his opinion, and that he will not solicit or accept other employment to the detriment of his employer.
The code further states that in his relations with other land surveyors, the land surveyor will strive to protect the surveying profession from misrepresentation and misunderstandings, that he will uphold the principle of appropriate compensation for those engaged in land surveying work and will provide opportunity for the professional development of others under his guidance. He will not directly or indirectly harm the professional reputation, prospects, or practice of another land surveyor, but if he undoubtedly and knowingly feels that a surveyor is guilty of unethical, illegal, or unfair practice, he will submit such information to the proper authorities who will undertake appropriate actions toward such a land surveyor. A land surveyor should not abuse the advantages of a salaried position, instruments, or office facilities to compete unfairly with other land surveyors.
The code also states that a land surveyor should not associate with other land surveyors who do not conform to ethical practices, or use association with a non-land surveyor, a corporation, or a partnership as a cloak for unethical acts, but must accept responsibility for any acts to the extent of his authority.
In 1912, A.C. Mulford wrote a paper entitled "Boundaries and Landmarks" in which he discussed the responsibilities of the surveyor. Written eighty-four years ago, it states that:
"The vocation of the civil engineer has always been invested with a dignity of its own, but it seems to me that of late years, in paying him the honor which he is just due, we are apt to fix a little too wide a gap between him and...the surveyor. We give engineering the chief attention in our technical schools, but surveying we are yet to relegate to the freshman class. Yet the profession of a) surveyor deals with one of the oldest and most fundamental facts of human society--the possession and inheritance of land. Fire, flood, and earthquake wipe out the greatest works of the engineer, but the land continueth forever. Curiously enough, the surveyor is isolated in his calling, and therein lies his responsibility and his temptations...I maintain that in the hands of the surveyor, to an exceptional degree, lie the honor of generations past and the welfare of the generations to come ... Therefore, I believe that to every surveyor who values his honor and has full sense of his duty the fear of error is a perpetual shadow that darkens the sunlight. Yet it seems to me that to a man of active mind and high ideals, the profession is singularly suited; for to the reasonable certainty of a modest income must be added intellectual satisfaction of problems solved, a sense of knowledge and power increasing with the years, the respect of the community, the consciousness of responsibility met and work well done. It is the profession for men (and women) who believe that a (person) is measured by (their) work, not by (their) purse, and to such I commend it."
There are nine basic ingredients which will help us to become a competent professional. Will the Penn States initiates please rise. Please recite after me.
1. I must be technically competent.
2. I must have personal integrity.
3. I must communicate effectively.
4. I must be willing to accept responsibility.
5. I must have the ability to get along with people.
6. I must remember that I am a citizen--a citizen of my country and a citizen of the world.
7. I must formulate and continue a self-education program.
8. I must recognize that I have a responsibility to my profession.
9. I must recognize and assume my responsibilities to my family.
None of these nine ingredients are worth much unless we have the self-discipline to follow a rather rigid routine. This takes eternal vigilance. A genuine belief and enthusiasm in our profession is the necessary catalytic agent in the development of a competent professional.
(Place a pin on each initiate and shake his or her hand.)
Please be seated.
I now declare each of you to be a member of Lambda Sigma. Congratulations to all of you!
Download the Initiation Script
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