Is surveying art or science? What is your opinion?

Is surveying an art or a science? That is a question worthy of consideration, because our profession certainly has facets of both. Some elements of surveying are technology based, making it a science, and some are related to history, law, evidence and interpretation, making it an art.

The tools we use in surveying undeniably have advanced in recent years, making it easier to measure very accurately. Has all of this exciting technology made us more about the science and less about the art of surveying? Certainly, the art of surveying is more than rendering a point cloud into an image; there is also evidence and interpretation, which are more art than science.

There is a lot of discussion among educators about the need to promote STEM (science technology, engineering and math). Our profession touches on all four of these categories. Many educators add an “A” to the acronym for to balance the science and the art. A recent column by Perry Trunick, editor of POB magazine, has a very thoughtful commentary on this topic:

As we talk about our profession, let’s make sure we emphasis the art as well as the science and technology aspect of surveying. That elevates surveyors from being perceived as technicians to our being recognized as the true professionals we are.