22nd Surveying and Mapping Educators Conference

The 22nd Surveying and Mapping Educators Conference was held in early July 2009 at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. The first such conference was held in 1937 by Iowa State University at its summer surveying Camp Marston, an abandoned commercial fishing camp on Rainy Lake, Minnesota. Since that time the conference has been held at time intervals ranging from five years to the current two-year cycle.

The name of the conference has changed in recent years. In 2007 the attendees at the 21st North American Surveying and Mapping Educators Conference changed the name to the North American Surveying and Mapping Educators Society, NASMES. The more than 40 delegates at this year's conference again changed the name to Surveying and Geomatics Educators Society, SAGES. The next conference is scheduled for July, 2011 at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez campus. It will be hosted by the Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying. Perhaps the site will attract educators from Latin and South America along with those from North America.

Day One

The keynote speaker was Professor David Gibson, from the University of Florida, Gainesville, which has an ABET/ASAC Geomatics program in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Dr. Gibson is recognized as one of the pioneering educators who took surveying (geomatics) out of most civil engineering curriculums and created the discipline of geomatics.

He reviewed the development of this decision and pointed out that the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) currently has 21 Bachelor of Science degree programs in three commissions. These include six programs in the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC), ten programs in the Applied Science Accreditation Commission (ASAC), and five programs in the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC). Additionally, there are five associate degree programs under TAC. Some Civil Engineering BS programs still teach Geomatics as part of Civil Engineering-Geomatics similar to other sub-disciplines, such as Civil Engineering-Structures-Environmental-Transportation-Fluids.

In the morning session on day one topics included learning theory and continuing education, a learning game tool called, "Township-The Board Game," assisting student career choices, and statistics on student retention. The ACSM-NSPS student competition dealing with Forensic Surveying Related to Accident Scenes was announced for the 2010 competition.

In the afternoon session papers included a report on the Utah Valley University four-year BS in Land Surveying, Geomatics and Civil Engineering, Disciplinary Actions by the PLS Boards and Outcomes Assessment Using an Industrial Advisory Council. The Pennsylvania State University Wilkes-Barre campus has an industrial advisory council whose members are chosen from professional surveying societies in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. All geomatics programs should have such a group that advises educators on specific academic and research issues and opportunities for future industry needs and that identifies actions that administrators should take to meet special program needs. Additionally, a paper was presented that provided worthwhile information on the procedures a school should undertake in order to host a successful educators conference.

The paper, "Geomatics and Civil Engineering," reviewed the development of surveying in civil engineering, the creation of the teachers conference, and the development of ABET. The general surveying criteria for the three ABET commissions: EAC, ASAC and TAC, were presented with comments as to why these programs produce three uniquely different products because of the varying required amounts of mathematics, physics, humanities, and social sciences, with the medical analogy to the doctor, nurse, and laboratory technician.

Also included in the paper was the announcement that Leica Geosystems Inc., David Evans and Associates, Inc. (DEA), and the Oregon State University School (OSU) of Civil and Construction Engineering signed a letter of understanding whereby Leica will provide OSU equipment and DEA faculty support to teach geomatics courses to the 1,000 students enrolled in the school. The following are quotes from Leica's To the Point newsletter Vol. 4 Issue 3: March 2009.

  • "Understanding land surveying and data capture has been and will always be an integral part of being a civil engineer or construction manager," says Scott Ashford, professor and head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering, a major educational program at OSU with about 1,000 students.
  • "Some civil engineering programs that can't keep up with these changes are just dropping their surveying education classes, but we plan to go the opposite way, to rejuvenate and expand our curriculum, to help our graduates become work ready," he said. "This unique partnership will allow us to do that, and we're very grateful for the assistance.

Civil engineering is still producing surveying (geomatics) students who should have the opportunity to become registered surveyors.

Day Two

Curt Summer, the executive director of ACSM, gave the day's first presentation. He noted that it would be possible for the Educators Conference to be housed within ACSM as an associate member. This would give the group a permanent address and support in organizing future conferences. The conference leadership would first have to create a constitution and by-laws and then ask for associate member status. These items have yet to be accomplished.

Topics discussed in the early morning papers included: Using Course Outcomes Achievement for Assigning Student Grades, The Application of Experimental Learning Theory to Land Surveying Continuing Education in GIS, Developing Research Skills in an Undergraduate Program, and Development and Implementation of a 3D Laser Scanning Course for Land Surveying. Material presented in the late morning session dealt with the Geomatics Body of Knowledge that is just being developed. Topics included Hybrid Learning, GPS, Imagery, GIS, and Law knowledge.

The early afternoon session was a panel discussion on "Where Will the New Geomatics Educators Come From?" A paper presented earlier in the conference that dealt with the Texas A & M University, Corpus Christi new graduate degree program in geomatics and GIS served as a base for the discussion. Currently geomatics graduate programs are offered at Purdue; the University of Florida, Gainesville; California State University, Fresno; and Ohio State. Oregon State University recently hired a new Ph.D. in geomatics faculty member and will now accept students applying for advanced degrees in civil engineering-geomatics.

Late afternoon session papers discussed GIS for the Lucerne County Historical Society, An Integrated Regional Approach to Surveying Education in New England, and Computer Programming Language Options in Undergraduate Surveying Programs. In all, 22 papers were presented over the two-day period.

During the evening banquet a plaque for outstanding educational service was presented in absentia to Dr. John Bossler, who served as a former director of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, a professor of geodetic science, and the director of the Center for Mapping at Ohio State University.

Half-Day Closing Session

This session was devoted to the business meeting and committee reports. The group passed the motion: "Future conferences would have a standing agenda item on the topic of accreditation and accreditation criteria." At the end of the session attendees voted to hold the 2013 conference at the University of Texas, Tyler.

Conference Proceedings: North American Surveying & Mapping Educators Proceedings ETSU 2009, "Creating the Footsteps for Tomorrow's Surveyors" CD Rom is available from Dr. Marian M. Clark, Ph.D. at mmclark@etsu.edu.



About the Author

  • Robert J. Schultz, PE, PLS
    Robert J. Schultz, PE, PLS
    Robert Schultz is a professor of civil, construction, and environmental engineering at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, where he teaches surveying courses. He is also a contributing writer for the magazine.

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