University of Florid alumna Pam (Ciemniecki) Hyatt earned her undergraduate degree in surveying & mapping, now geomatics, in 1990. Today, she runs Hyatt Survey Services, alongside her husband Russell Hyatt. Their company has been honored in the Gator100, the world’s fastest-growing Gator businesses not only once, but twice.
What brought you to your major? What first sparked your interest?
It came into my life like a missing piece of a puzzle. I was enrolled in Civil Engineering at the University of Florida but wasn’t passionate about the classes I was taking. That is, until I took the beginning surveying class required for all civil engineering students. I loved the class and after talking with one of the teaching assistants, realized I could major in surveying & mapping, or geomatics as it’s called today. I love that it is a highly technical math-based career.
Was there a particular faculty/staff or mentor that was influential in your career path?
Dr. Dave Gibson founded the surveying & mapping program at UF and brought in Dr. Bon DeWitt as one of the professors. Bon DeWitt was my photogrammetry (aerial surveying) professor while I was at UF. He made his classes so much fun and started everyone with a joke of the day. He was always available to sit and talk with all his students and deeply cared about their success in the surveying field. He would guide us through our labs and make sure we thoroughly understood the material. He encouraged every student to become active in the state surveying society and become leaders for the future of the profession. Bon is now head of the geomatics program, an officer in the Florida Surveying & Mapping Society, and still interacts with his students daily.
What do you find to be the coolest part of your career?
Surveyors follow the footsteps of the surveyors who came before them. All of Florida was laid out in a grid, called the Public Land Survey System, by surveyors back in the early 1800s and every survey we have done since then is based on that prior work! It is fascinating to come across a monument that was set by early surveyors. We have some very interesting jobs we work on, and it’s nice to know the difference we are making in society.
What are some exciting projects you have worked on in the course of your career?
The geomatics field is so very broad and encompasses so many different types of surveying. We were asked to survey the mounts for the big sail/screen on the back of the brand-new Oasis of the Seas cruise ship when it first came out. We have surveyed the entire dike around Lake Okeechobee on ATVs. We are working for the Army Corps of Engineers on the Kissimmee River Restoration Project, which will return flow to 44 miles of the river’s historic channel and restore 40 square miles of river/floodplain ecosystem. We have had our field crews flown into the middle of the Everglades by helicopter to reach areas so remote that was the only way to get to them. One of our specialties is hydrographic surveying, so we do a lot of beach profiles and sonar surveys of channels. These are just a few of the many facets of surveying.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in the same major or career path as you?
The best advice would be to talk with someone already in the surveying profession. If you email Bon@ufl.edu he can guide you to one of the students enrolled in the program. Call a local surveyor in your community and ask if they can show you around their office and spend an hour with you discussing their profession and the jobs they are working on. Surveyors with college degrees are in such high demand all over the country and not many universities offer degree programs in this field. We are fortunate that UF is one of the few universities in the southeast United States that offers a geomatics degree program.
The Geomatics major in the School of Forest Research and Conservation is the oldest program of its kind in the south-eastern United States and offers an integrated approach for the study of various geospatial measurement systems and technologies. The Geomatics program is available at three locations in the state of Florida: on the main campus in Gainesville, at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (FLREC) or at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) in Plant City. Find a CALS major that suits your interests by taking our majors quiz. You can also find information regarding our undergraduate and graduate programs on our website. Questions for Pam Hyatt about her experiences in CALS and her career in geomatics should be directed to Pam@HyattSurvey.com.