Rhonda Dodge attended Springfield High School in Oregon and thought she would attend college to become an engineer. She was always good at math and since her father had graduated from Oregon Tech in 1979, she knew about the school and enjoyed visiting Klamath Falls. She didn’t know anything about land surveying until she met an Oregon Tech professor, Mason Marker, and he convinced her to switch gears from electrical engineering to surveying. Rhonda ultimately completed a double major in Applied Mathematics and Geomatics/Surveying Option and graduated as one of only two women in her major in 2016.
Rhonda thoroughly enjoyed her time at Oregon Tech. She was on the Track and Cross Country teams and was the only student athlete to receive NAIA Scholar Athlete recognition six times. She was the team captain for Cross Country, secretary of the Geomatics Club and received Outstanding Scholar awards in both of her majors. Skiing trips with the Outdoor Program also kept Rhonda busy during her four years in Klamath Falls. When reflecting back on her time at Oregon Tech, Rhonda says the small class sizes were a huge benefit as well as the ability to get to know the professors. While other schools do not let students start working on actual equipment during the first couple of years of college, at Oregon Tech, Rhonda was able to get that hands-on experience from the very beginning. Labs were outside every day, even in the snow, and that got Rhonda hooked on working in this field.
The courses at Oregon Tech prepared Rhonda for her career, especially CAD which turned out to be very useful in her summer internship positions. She explained that if she had not taken hands-on classes at Oregon Tech, she would have been behind in her field. She spent a summer in Honolulu, Hawaii doing an externship at the Hawaiian Electric Company and also completed an internship at KPFF in Portland. After completing her undergraduate degrees, Professor Jack Walker encouraged Rhonda to pursue a master’s degree in Remote Sensing. Rhonda completed the two year program at Purdue University in just one year and then went to work for the Oregon Department of Transportation in Salem, Oregon, where she still works today. She was recently promoted to be a Remote Sensing Surveyor.
Although there are very few women in the Geomatics program, Rhonda never felt excluded. She married one of her classmates and still keeps in touch with the others as well. Her husband, Russell Dodge, works as a land surveyor for Portland General Electric. Rhonda enjoys doing outreach to high school students and spreading the word about what surveyors do. She is also active with the PLSO (Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon) organization and Young Surveyors Network. Recently, ODOT donated equipment to Oregon Tech and Rhonda had the honor of being on hand to present the donation to the school. Her advice to current and future students at Oregon Tech is to spend as much time with the professors outside of class as possible. The professors at Oregon Tech have industry experience and there’s so much you can learn from that outside the classroom.
~Becky Burkeen, Alumni Relations Manager