Design Engineer Construct! now approved for schools in England, Scotland and Wales x

Land Surveyor

Land Surveyors collect highly accurate data to map the shape of the land.

If you love the great outdoors, want to use some really cool, really intelligent technology, and enjoy seeing maths in action, then land (or topographical) surveying is the job for you!

You will work ‘in the field’ from  tunnels, rivers and highways through to major construction projects, historic boundaries and quarries, but one thing is for sure – the range of work is diverse and exciting.  Back in the office, you’ll use advanced 2D and 3D software to create plans and drawings of your measurements.

Find out more about a career in Surveying >

Story of a real Land Surveyor…

A love affair with Maths?!

I quite literally fell in love with Construction, but my path into the built environment was somewhat extraordinary.

I attended Myers Grove School in Sheffield from 1982-87, and was good at maths (particularly enjoying trigonometry), however I knew that the Careers Advisor was wrong when he suggested mathematics would lead me to a career as a maths teacher. As much as I loved my school, staying there forever was not on my agenda. I wanted to do something exciting with maths, but my limited knowledge of alternative careers with numbers led me to joining a bank straight after my A levels, figuring that I could climb the ladders of power by counting money. My parents were unhappy that I didn’t go to University, but I simply didn’t know what to study. I suppose I anticipated some great revelation if I went into the working world.

A Night on the Town

Six years later, a friend from the bank asked me to join her on a night out in Sheffield. Now, in the early nineties, Sheffield nightclubs were not exactly my cup of tea (with the exception of the marvellous Leadmill), and when a guy at the bar suggested we should make a swift exit in favour of dinner and conversation, I was only too pleased.

That night was a turning point in my life. He was a Civil Engineer and told me about his job. I was instantly his world of buildings and roads and sewers. I’m not sure many people will quote such a synergy, but his world made sense to me, and when he asked me to join him on site the following weekend, I discovered theodolites, tripods and prisms and suddenly my love of trigonometry came flooding back.

Becoming a Surveyor

Within just a few short months of enrolling at University and training on the job between lectures , I was surveying  and setting out. I mingled with engineers and site agents, groundworkers and bricklayers, and all of them were using maths every single hour of every day not as geeks and boffins, but as problem solvers.

The years went by, and eventually I set up my own land surveying business, got married and had a baby. One of my biggest contracts after giving birth to Kate engaged me for a number of years in the measurement of many school buildings and grounds as part of the UK Building Schools for the Future programme. Everyday I was accosted by a friendly mob of young students who wanted to know who I was and what I was doing in their school. I occasionally handed over my kit and very soon these young people not discovered a reason for learning maths, they also enjoyed it. They particularly liked the technology I was using. What’s more, they realised there was more to Construction than they had realised.

I went on to survey many more schools across the country, and was constantly inspired by the enthusiasm and curiosity demonstrated by the many children and young people I encountered. Children who found their lessons restrictive (and even ‘pointless’ – their words, not mine) were suddenly enthusiastic about the science, technology, engineering and maths a construction professional applies to his work every day.

I realised that BSF provided a great learning opportunity for these kids, and that people like me were really useful not only on site, but also in the classroom. I went out of my way (some would call it a form of OCD) to find out what careers young people might choose if they entered the construction industry. They mostly answered ‘builders’ or ‘bricklayers’ at one end of the scale, and ‘architects’ at the other. A few quoted alternative careers, such as fence erector and kitchen fitter (“because it’s what my Dad does”), and Quantity Surveyor (“because my brother is studying a course at University”).

Clearly there was a huge career awareness gap.

Back to school with COYO

In May 2009, I formed Class Of Your Own Limited with architect and like minded colleague Dan Gibson. This company was given an aspirational name, with objectives which would raise awareness of professional industry skills and careers, and demonstrate the innovation and impact school children can bring to a construction project. Now, lots of young people are studying our Design Engineer Construct! curriculum and achieving some really great results.

I am passionately adamant that young people see a challenging, exciting built environment where study can lead to technical careers in architecture, civil and structural engineering and management careers, accounting, planning and law, to mention but a few. Class Of Your Own has evolved to demonstrate this spectrum of career possibilities by providing a real projects where students can be actively involved in decision making, policy writing, planning and management. Learners understand that buildings are not created as if ‘by magic’ behind building site hoardings and that an enormous amount of skill is required before, during and after a new school building, for example, is built.

Engineering can provoke some great conversations, and I still maintain that one day, a child will solve one of the world’s greatest problems because he has worked out a solution with his peers. Imagine if, through thinking about carbon sequestration relative to his own project, he came up with an idea for Mr Branson and his £25m investment….it’s entirely possible.

My Careers Advisor was right after all – going back to school has been great. It’s really enjoy working with young people who so often remind me a little of myself when I was their age – a little mixed up about life, career choices, maths! Maybe this time, I can offer a little more inspiration, impart a sense of curiousity and fun, and open a few doors to some incredible careers.

Alison Watson Land Surveyor and COYO Director

Alison Watson

Founding Director
Class Of Your Own Limited


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COYO is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff, and others providing services on behalf of COYO, to share this commitment