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Director's Corner
In the first part of May, I was able to attend my first in-person Professional Engineers of Oregon (PEO) conference in Lincoln City. Not only was I able to attend the speaker sessions, but PEO also invited our agency to host an OSBEELS information table. During the conference, we were able to connect with PEO Board members, students that would soon be entering the profession, as well as established engineering professionals. It was a wonderful event that provided top-notch educational sessions in addition to impressive guest speakers. If you ever have an opportunity to attend a future PEO event, I highly recommend you do. 

At the end of May, I was also able to attend my first in-person meeting of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Again, being able to connect with, share with, and learn from NCEES staff, western states’ agency leaders and other board members was incredibly valuable. There is a lot of knowledge and experience gathered into one place when events like these occur, and I feel fortunate that I was able to glean some of that knowledge and experience during my stay. 

At OSBEELS, we strive to develop and maintain partnerships with professional networks in Oregon and nationwide. If you know of an organization or networking opportunity that might be beneficial for OSBEELS to become more involved with, please contact me, by email at:​ or by phone at 503-934-2117.

Board Bids Farewell to members Erin Austin and Amin Wahab

​This past June, the Board bid farewell to departing members Erin Austin, Esq., and Amin Wahab. 

Appointed by the Governor in 2018, Erin Austin served as the Chair of the Rules and Regulations Committee and participated on the External Relations, Finance, and Examinations and Qualifications during her term. 

Professionally, Erin is a Senior Vice President and General Counsel for David Evans and Associates, Inc. She is an attorney licensed to practice in the states of Oregon and Washington and has been with David Evans and Associates for over 24 years.
Looking back on her experience serving on the Board, Erin recalls being “particularly proud of the quality of staff employed by OSBEELS, who are dedicated to providing great customer service to our members.” She was pleased to see the agency invest in an updated licensing database system during her term and is excited to see the benefits it provides to state registrants.

With her time on the Board now complete, Erin is looking forward to seeing future registrants earn their professional license with OSBEELS and the continued growth of the professions. 

Amin Wahab first served on the Board from 2007-2013 and was reappointed in 2014 following a one-year assignment as the Water Technical Lead with the United States Agency for Internal Development in Kabul, Afghanistan. During his time on the Board, Amin has served as the Chair of the External Relations Committee and participated on the Oregon-Specific Exams Task Force, Customer Service and Communications Task Force, as well as the Rules and Regulations, Professional Practices, Legislative, and Finance Committees. 

Amin is currently the Westside Watersheds Program Manager for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services.
Reflecting on his tenure on the Board, Amin was most proud of the agency’s transition to computer-based testing for the fundamental exams through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and the increased participation by Board members on the NCEES’s various task forces and committees. 
In his spare time, Amin is looking to continue to participate on other city and state-based boards. He was recently reappointed to the City of Lake Oswego’s Transportation Advisory Board. 

The Board and OSBEELS staff would like to thank Erin and Amin for their dedication to improving the engineering, land surveying, and photogrammetric mapping professions and wish them the best in their future endeavors. 

A Tale of Two Professions: Professional Land Surveying and Geographical Information System Mapping

Authored by Board member Tim Fassbender, PLS, CWRE

Over the course of my career, I have had the privilege of working with exceptional land surveyors and geographical information systems (GIS) mapping professionals. While often confused as interchangeable, land surveying and GIS mapping are two different professions that deliver their own unique products to their clientele. While there are similarities between the two, it is important to understand the difference between them and identify the limitations that exist for those practicing GIS mapping without a Professional Land Surveyor’s (PLS) license in Oregon.

In Oregon, you must have a license to perform professional land surveying work outlined in Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 672.002(5). In order to receive a license, you must meet certain education and experience requirements, and have passed two national surveying exams along with one Oregon specific land surveying exam. The practice of professional land surveying is highly regulated and subject to many laws and rules found in ORS Chapter 672, ORS Chapter 209, ORS Chapter 92, and Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) Chapter 820. GIS mapping is not a regulated practice in Oregon and does not require a professional license. These two professions have similar subject matter but vastly different requirements in order to practice them. 

GIS mapping work is important and adds significant value for its intended purpose. GIS mapping is built on locations provided by the science of surveying and geodetic measurement. The GIS parcel map is built by compiling surveying information from varying sources. It generally provides a practical understanding of where locations and boundaries are but is often compiled from data produced in multiple eras. Some data is compiled from the original surveys (in Oregon, that begins in the 1860’s) and is likely not as accurate as today’s technology. These differences may not be apparent to the general public, and therefore, the public could see GIS maps as authority for setting property lines or boundaries.

Professional land surveying, on the other hand, requires the understanding and realization that there are pitfalls of compiling different accuracies of data to make one map. 

Some land surveyors have reservations regarding GIS mapping and the impact it has on the public’s perception. For example, assumptions made by users can lead to inappropriate application of the GIS mapping data. Consider parcel lines on a map. When someone sees an aerial image of their home depicted with a box around it, they assume that means something authoritative. If the box is labeled “property line”, the layperson often interprets it as definitive. I have worked with landowners, and they truly believe a GIS map is the guaranteed property line location. Many of the GIS maps do contain disclaimers explicitly stating that the maps are not to be used for property line location, however it still leaves much of the data to be interpreted by the landowner. It is the responsibility of a professional land surveyor to determine precisely where that line is. Does this mean that GIS products and services shouldn’t make parcel data visible? No, it doesn’t. The issue is to right this misconception and explain the difference between a survey and a GIS map.

Both land surveyors and GIS mappers are concerned with the precision of location as it is suited for the application of data. While land surveyors focus on accuracy, GIS mapping focuses on precision. Land surveyors are trained how to interpret property deeds, including how to use the qualifying calls within the deeds, determining when bearings and distances should not be held and how to resolve conflict between deed elements. Because the GIS mapping professional is mapping out the parcels dimensions to create their parcel map, they are not required to go into this detail.
Here is another example of the difference between professional land surveying and GIS mapping. A common term, that the GIS community uses when fitting parcel lines together, is “rubber sheeting”. Meaning, they stretch and pull the line work until parcels line come together. This practice can result in situations such as a parcel line which is 100 feet in the deed becoming 103 feet in length in GIS mapping. It produces a precise but inaccurate map. Not all GIS maps are this way but knowing the limitation of the mapping warns people that the map is a great inventory of where your parcel is next to the neighbors, but it does not show the true location of the property lines. 

The bottom line is that data should be well documented and used for the purpose that it is intended. Land surveying and GIS mapping are two different professions that deliver their own unique product to their clientele. PLS and GIS professionals often use GIS maps as a tool to know who may own properties in the area and what certain improvements are in the area. However, only the licensed land surveyor can determine the true boundary location and its relationship with other features.

Board Welcomes New Member Erica Rooney


The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering & Land Surveying (OSBEELS) is pleased to announce the addition of new board member Erica Rooney, P.E. Erica was appointed by Governor Kate Brown to the Board as of June 2022.

Erica is the Public Works Director and City Engineer for the City of Lake Oswego, overseeing the City's Engineering and Maintenance Divisions, as well as the Water Treatment Plant. These divisions are responsible for providing full services for water, wastewater, stormwater, and transportation infrastructure throughout the City. Erica has been with the City of Lake Oswego since 2009, serving as the City Engineer since 2015, and possesses over 30 years of engineering experience in both the private and public sectors.

Originally from Spokane, WA, Erica attended the University of Idaho earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Following the completion of her education, Erica relocated to California to gain engineering training before landing in the Pacific Northwest and beginning work with the City of Portland as the Assistant City Traffic Engineer. She's also previously worked for the City of Beaverton and in the private sector with OTAK. Erica became registered as a Professional Engineer in Oregon in 1990. 

An active member in the engineering community since college, Erica was the first female president of the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) student chapter at the University of Idaho. Early in her professional career, she was a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, where she became the first female president for the Oregon Chapter in 1995. Currently, Erica is a member of the ASCE, the American Water Works Association, and the American Public Works Association.

Looking ahead to the opportunity to serve on the Board, Erica said, “it feels good to be in a position of giving time and effort to the overall advancement of engineering as a profession and career. It will be an honor to be on the Board and assist with the future development of the engineering and land surveying professions in the State of Oregon."

Outside of work, Erica spends her time getting outdoors, kayaking and hiking, and considers herself a coffee enthusiast. The mother of three children, all of whom are grown and living across the country, she looks forward to getting to visit and see each of them in the future.

The OSBEELS is looking forward to having Erica participate on the Board and share her vast professional engineering experience.

Director's Corner

From the desk of Jason Barbee, Board Administrator & Agency Director

It’s official, the OSBEELS office will is reopening to the public beginning May1, 2022. As I stated in the last Examiner, we have adjusted our business operating structure and most staff are working a hybrid schedule, which includes both working from home and in the office. If you need to meet with a staff member in person, we are more than happy to accommodate your request.

Please contact the person you’d like to meet with for scheduling. Our contact information is available on our website within the staff directory section. If you aren’t sure who your agency contact should be, feel free to call our front desk (503-362-2666) and we will put you in touch with the right person.

Earlier this spring we received a kind email from Miss Martin and her girls’ STEM club from New Jersey thanking our agency for the free student resources available on our website. Miss Martin explained the online resources allowed her group of students to stay engaged during the pandemic and helped them prepare to resume in-person club meetings and activities.

One of the club members, Lizabeth, even submitted a resource recommendation that we were able to add to our resources page!
We’d like to remind our readers of the free public and student (K-12) resources available on the OSBEELS website.
Click this link to access these resources today.

Rule Reminder: Exams & License Application Process Decoupled

​Recently, the Board and agency staff have received questions  requesting clarification in regards to the OSBEELS’s application for professional registration process and whether applicants must gain experience and pass exams in a specific order. The answer to these questions is “no”. Because we’ve received so many inquiries, we are providing this reminder of the Board’s 2015 changes that decoupled the exam process.

Legislation was prompted by two occurrences; the first was the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), which is the national organization that examines applicants in these disciplines, shifted from administering paper-based professional examinations (practice based examinations) on a biannual basis to a year-round, computer-based test (CBT) rocess. The second was to bring the OSBEELS up to date with the national examination procedures and eliminate potential conflicts resulting from the NCEES’s and other examination administration changes.

Prior to these changes, individuals seeking professional licensure faced a two-application process. First, individuals were required to obtain the necessary qualifications to sit for the fundamental’s examination. Then, they were required to obtain additional qualifications to sit for the professional examination, and in this specific order.

With the passing of Senate Bill 297 during the 2015 Oregon State Legislative session, applicants are now able to obtain the necessary qualifications for registration, including sitting for the required examinations, in any order convenient to the  applicant without receiving prior approval from the Board, and prior to applying for licensure.

Despite these changes, submitting an “application” is still required for candidates to sit for an Oregon Specific examination, although this two-page form is solely to assist OSBEELS in making the necessary arrangements to administer those examinations. Once an individual obtains all the required qualifications for licensure, they may make a single application to the Board for professional registration.

Additionally, the rule change caused additional process changes within the agency including OSBEELS no longer requiring individuals become enrolled as an Intern prior to becoming professionally registered; however, an application for enrollment as an Engineering or Land Surveying Intern is still available to those who are interested.

We hope this article helps our registrants understand this significant agency procedural change that occurred in 2015. If you’re interested in learning more about the OSBEELS’s currently application process please visit the ‘Obtaining a License’ webpage on the Board website to review related rules and resources.