Feature: "Practical with a Focus" at Troy University
Surveyor's Red Pages - Red Pages 2013
The surveying and geomatics sciences program at Alabama’s Troy University produces quality graduates in part by providing a diverse program and by encouraging summer work and internships with survey firms.
by Steve Ramroop, PhD, Xutong Niu, PhD, and David Griffin, PhD
The surveying and geomatics sciences program at Troy University began in 1998 and is the only accredited program of its kind in Alabama and one of the few in the southeastern states. The way forward for the program includes producing qualified graduates for the land surveying license as well as providing online courses to satisfy education requirements for graduates in other fields who may wish to gain entry into the fundamental of surveying examination. The program will continue to recruit students and teach them how to use the newest generation of hardware and software in the geomatics field, and it will continue to explore the option of developing graduate programs.
The surveying and geomatics sciences program at Troy University has been described as a “practical” program with a focus. The intent is to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for their successful pursuit of a career as a geomatics professional. The core courses in the program provide for study in the sub-disciplines of surveying and geomatics sciences, which include land surveying, land development, photogrammetry, remote sensing, geodesy, least squares adjustment, and geographic information systems. The program’s objectives are that graduates:
- will be prepared to obtain quality entry-level positions within the surveying and geomatics profession;
- will be prepared for the licensure process of examinations and experience;
- will hold wide-ranging positions within the diverse disciplines of the surveying and geomatics fields; and
- will grow and advance into managerial/ownership/leadership positions within the surveying and geomatics fields.
Naturally, a program objective is that employers will be pleased with the quality and performance of graduates.
The curriculum of the program covers all aspects of the knowledge areas tested by the national Fundamentals of Surveying licensing exam in order to prepare graduates for successful completion of the licensing process. The curriculum includes 121 credit hours: 62 credit hours in selected general study requirements and 59 credit hours in specialized program requirements.
All classes in the program requirements have an associated laboratory component. Concepts are taught in the classes while the labs provide hands-on, one-to-one interaction with the latest geomatics hardware and software. The program is equipped with a dedicated computer lab containing 25 computers, laser printers, photogrammetric softcopy workstations, and a large digitizer. Faculty members who have terminal degrees, certifications in GIS, and licenses in land surveying and engineering teach the classes and labs. The applied science program incorporates elements from engineering and technology designed to provide for a balance of theory and application.
The surveying and geomatics sciences program at Troy University is accredited by the ABET Accredited Applied Science Accreditation Commission (ASAC). The program is one of 20 ABET Accredited accredited degree programs in the United States to offer a bachelor’s degree and the only such program in the state of Alabama.
Because the average age of licensed land surveyors in Alabama is 58 years, there will soon be a critical shortage of qualified candidates for entry into the profession. This situation has not gone unnoticed by the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors (ASPLS), which has actively supported Troy’s program since its inception. ASPLS support has included donations, scholarships, and guidance via the ASPLS education committee and participation in the program’s advisory board. The ASPLS has contributed $40,000 in direct support of the program, $150,000 in scholarship funds, and more than $120,000 in waived fees and other subsidies. The ASPLS has also been instrumental in the creation of three scholarships specifically for surveying and geomatics sciences students.
Other professionals have been generous with their time and expertise by serving on the advisory board for the program that includes members from academics, government agencies, and the private sector. It meets regularly to provide guidance for the growth, development, and direction of the program.
As a result of discussions with professional surveyors in Alabama and nearby states, Troy plans to develop and provide for online surveying and geomatics classes in the near future. With strong support from the Troy University e-campus, advanced web-based teaching technologies can greatly facilitate migration of classes to the online platform. This will ensure the quality of distance learning.
The purpose of this effort is to provide an online education opportunity for those who are working in surveying and will need to complete certain education requirements to qualify for entry into the Fundamentals of Surveying exam. It is anticipated that Basics of Surveying, Introduction to GIS, Land Surveying Principles, and Introduction to Least Squares Adjustment will be offered online. More courses will be added in subsequent years. This will contribute substantially to the way forward for the profession of land surveying and geomatics sciences.
The Troy University geomatics program has been working to ensure that graduates gain employment upon graduation. Numerous employers from Alabama and neighboring states such as Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas have been invited to visit the campus and give seminars and site interviews for the students. At the same time, students are encouraged to take summer internships to gain field experience directly from practicing professionals. The program faculty actively contacts surveying, engineering, and mining companies in the state to secure internship positions for geomatics students.
Steve Ramroop, PhD, Xutong Niu, PhD, and David Griffin, PhD work in the surveying and geomatics sciences program, department of mathematics and geomatics sciences, at Troy University in Troy, Alabama.
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