Eye in the Sky


For over ten years, Scott Tikalsky has worked at Caltrans. As the Redding Field Surveys Branch Chief for the North Region Office of Surveys, he commands four field survey crews and manages the workload for all things “survey” for Caltrans in the North State. It’s a position that requires adaptability and implementing new technological advances that change the way Caltrans conducts business.

Twos News Eye in the Sky 2

As drones became more common on work sites and in the public marketplace, Scott was tasked with implementing them into the Caltrans survey workflow for all projects in District 2. Drones offer a unique capability and offer benefits outside of data procurement.

“The new technologies, as they are incorporated into our workflows, greatly increase the safety factor for some of the surveying we have done manually, particularly the vertical surfaces where it is almost impossible to put someone on the side of the hill,” Tikalsky said. “We are also able to cover larger amounts of area in a shorter amount of time and only utilize the field crews for locating items that need the accuracy of a conventional survey. It’s a workforce multiplier for us.”

From the first project incorporating a surveys drone, to the latest and greatest, the surveys team is always learning on the job, and learning how to best serve their clients.

“As far as drone projects, we are pretty new with this technology, so each project we complete…we are still learning the capabilities we have,” Tikalsky said. “This makes each project unique as we expand our knowledge of what we can do with this technology and help out the district. The primary purpose of these drones is to provide survey data, but imagery has been a happy side product, providing a snapshot in time of a project.”

It has been a complete team effort to provide imagery to project managers, engineers, and Caltrans team members across a spectrum of specialties throughout the years. Scott takes pride in the team dynamics that have been cultivated in the Caltrans District 2 survey branch.

“I’m really proud of the people I work with. I have a branch full of good hard-working people willing to get the job done and done right,” Tikalsky said. “The products we create are professional, high-quality, accurate assessments that can provide scope to the team working the project. It’s important work, and I couldn’t be prouder of it.” 

- Written by District 2 PIO, Kurtis Villavicencio