Dave Zilkoski

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Dave Zilkoski looks off into the distance. He is wearing glasses and a blue checkered button-down shirt with a navy sweater over top.

Dave Zilkoski earned his M.Sc. in Geology from SES in 1979. After retiring from NOAA, Dave now works as the CEO of Geospatial Solutions. Contact: DaveZilkoski@gmail.com

"Without my advanced degree in Geodetic Science from OSU, I would not have been able to perform various geodetic research projects or manage the major NGS program to readjust the United States leveling network (NAVD 88 project)."

Where has your degree taken you?

I received a M.S. degree in geodetic science from The Ohio State University in 1979.  I was employed by National Geodetic Survey (NGS) from 1974 to 2009.   I served as Director, National Geodetic Survey, from October 2005 to January 2009.  During my career with NGS, I established partnerships with state/ local governments and private industry to develop advanced surveying/mapping techniques.  I conducted applied GNSS research to evaluate and develop guidelines for using new technology to generate geospatial products.  As Project Manager of the New Adjustment of the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88) I worked with Federal and State agencies to develop plans to transition from NGVD 29 to NAVD 88.  

Since retiring from government service in 2009, as a geodetic consultant, I provide technical guidance on issues related to NGS’ modernization of the National Spatial Reference System [the replacement of  NAD 83 and NAVD 88 with North American Terrestrial Reference Frame of 2022 (NATRF2022) and North American-Pacific Geopotential Datum of 2022 (NAPGD2022)]; review the results of GNSS survey projects; and perform training sessions on guidelines for estimating GNSS-derived coordinates, procedures for performing leveling network adjustments, the use of ArcGIS for analyses of adjustment data/results, and the proper procedures to follow when estimating crustal movement rates using GNSS and geodetic leveling data.  I chair the North Carolina Geodetic Survey Advisory Committee, I’m a member of the North Carolina 2022 Reference Frame Working Group, past Chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee AFB80 Geospatial Data Acquisition Technologies in Design and Construction, past President of the American Association for Geodetic Surveying (AAGS), a member of the American Geophysical Union, a fellow of AAGS, and I currently serve as a GPS World Survey Scene guest editor.

How do you feel that your experience, specifically as an SES/geology student at OSU, prepared you for your career or life in general?

Without my advanced degree in Geodetic Science from OSU, I would not have been able to perform various geodetic research projects or manage the major NGS program to readjust the United States leveling network (NAVD 88 project).  These tasks helped me advance my career and, ultimately, be selected as the Director of the National Geodetic Survey.

What is your favorite memory as a student?

I made a lot of friends from around the world during my time at OSU.  I learned about their different cultures and customs.

What advice do you have for current and future students?

Ask a lot of questions because there are no stupid questions.  Also, make a lot of professional connections; they will pay off in the future.