Surveyor, BAM Contractors – Antwerp, Belgium
We first learned about Niels Balens through last year’s Outlook nominations, and in researching him as a last-minute finalist we discovered his surveying project for a new tram line in the City of Antwerp. His work was so interesting that we developed it into the feature story, “A New Line” in our March 2018 issue of xyHt. Although Balens missed last year’s deadline for finalists, we are honored to include him this year.
Balens studied industrial sciences and earned a master’s at the XIOS Hogeschool, Limburg. He has worked in several technical and project leadership roles for industrial and construction concerns and has been a “topograaff” survey engineer for BAM Contractors, an international design and construction firm. For the Antwerp project he was part of a BAM team that implemented completely new technologies, including a scanning total station, while in the middle of the project. BAM was not happy with the status quo for scanning, so they introduced a new, streamlined process bucking the legacy big-scanner model—without loss of productivity.
The way Balens approaches engineering and surveying challenges has impressed his peers, and he does this with an infectious enthusiasm; he really has fun with his work. He also has a great sense of humor (perhaps a much-needed commodity in the surveying community), and, as far as we know, is the first competitive underwater hockey athlete honored in xyHt’s 40 under 40.