Maryland's Unique Survey Technology Program

Flexibility for working students, an articulation agreement with a local university, and financial support help make the surveying technology program at The Community College of Baltimore County at Catonsville one of a kind in Maryland.

By Bob Banzhoff, LS

The Community College of Baltimore County, Maryland (CCBC) serves 72,000 students and operates at two satellite centers, one in Hunt Valley and one in Owings Mills, and at three campus locations: Essex, Dundalk, and Catonsville (all in Maryland). The Catonsville campus is located just outside the southwest quadrant of the Baltimore beltway, I-695.

The survey technology program runs from the School of Applied and Information Technology (SAIT) and offers three certificate study programs and two degree options.  Students can earn a certificate in land surveying and a minor in engineering or civil design. The degree issued from this program is an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in either the land surveying option or the civil design option.

Students

Very few of the students entering the program in the survey concentration are fresh out of high school.  Most students in the land surveying certificate or degree program are already working in surveying.  Some want to pursue licensure, some are looking for knowledge that they feel is necessary to perform properly and more efficiently at their jobs, and some are currently laid off and are trying to develop their skills in the downtime to become more attractive to an employer. Some students are currently engaged in an engineering career and wish to “lift the veil” on surveying and add this knowledge to their tool kits.  Also, some students are out of work from a related field and are taking surveying classes hoping to switch careers. 
 

Classes

In keeping with the working situation of the typical student, core classes are offered after working hours in the evenings, and the classes with labs requiring students to be outside (surveying instruments and topo mapping) meet on Saturdays. The more “seasoned” students may obtain certain credits by a portfolio process, and the college employs a full-time military credit evaluator, but life experience and transfer credits are strictly controlled by Maryland law. 

Classes are instructed by surveyors and engineers, and the Law I class is taught by an attorney who is also a licensed surveyor.  The thrust of the instruction is that students learn the mechanics of surveying at the nuts-and-bolts level so that they can know what is happening inside the machine when they “push that button” and know how to recognize and correct the situation if the technology is not performing properly. 
 

Statewide Program Status


This land surveying degree program is the only one of its kind in the state of Maryland.  Because in-state but out-of-county residents had no other alternative opportunity to obtain this specialized education, until very recently Maryland would reimburse the school for the entire difference between in- and out-of-county rates for each Maryland resident student not residing in Baltimore County.  CCBC and Baltimore County have picked up part of the burden that the state has dropped by reimbursing about half of the difference for affected students.  This is known as “Statewide Program” status.  Out-of-state students must pay the full amount.  The degree program draws students from all over the state and from Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
 

Land Surveying Certificate


This certificate consists of six core credit classes for 18 credit hours and prepares students for entry-level positions in surveying, government, and engineering firms as members of a surveying crew. Combined with appropriate field experience, this certificate may lead to party/crew chief positions.

Upon successful completion of this certificate, students will be able to: 

  1. demonstrate standard techniques to locate and determine three dimensional coordinates of points on the ground using surveying instruments;
  2. describe the topographical features of points on the ground and provide three dimensional coordinates for these points with given precisions as determined by federal, state, and local accuracies and specifications;
  3. apply mathematical methods to interpret and refine field data to determine accuracy and precision of field data; and
  4. solve problems incurred in conducting field surveys through legal and database searches.
 
 

Minor Engineering Certificate


The professional land surveyor license issued by the Maryland Board for Professional Land Surveyors allows a licensee to perform limited engineering tasks.  This certificate consists of four core credit classes for 12 credit hours and completes the Maryland surveying license requirements for storm drain/storm water and road-grade design experience.

Upon successful completion of this certificate, students will be able to:

  1. use the certificate to substitute for hydrology experience in the state licensing process;
  2. design water control features such as storm drains, drainage pipes and ditches, catchment ponds, and other storm water disposal systems as determined by federal, state, and local accuracies and specifications;
  3. apply mathematical methods to interpret and refine field data to determine accuracy and precision of field data; and
  4. apply federal, state, and local laws, standards, and regulations to guarantee the safe and proper management of storm water runoff during construction and land management use within Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The Land Surveying Degree


This degree consists of 63 to 64 credit hours of which 13 core credit classes account for 39 core credit hours.  It is an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in the land surveying option and prepares students for positions with surveying firms, government, and engineering/construction firms as office technicians performing data reduction, basic design, and computer-aided drafting.

Upon successful completion of this degree option, students will be able to:
  1. complete all of the requirements listed in the land surveying certificate;
  2. apply federal, state, and local laws, standards, and regulations to guarantee the safe and proper management of storm water runoff during construction and land management use within Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and the District of Columbia;
  3. demonstrate how to incorporate positional information into effective written and oral communications; and
  4. explain proper procedures used in determining three dimensional positions and show how these procedures comply with federal, state, and local specifications.
 

Articulation Agreement with Towson University 

Some CCBC graduates have taken advantage of the opportunity to leverage their AAS in surveying while continuing their education at a four-year college.  The major in geography and land surveying is based on a transfer articulation agreement between the CCBC at Catonsville and Towson University, a state college about 20 miles north from Catonsville.

Most students electing to major in geography and land surveying will complete the AAS degree in land surveying at CCBC-Catonsville prior to enrollment at Towson University. All surveying courses taken at CCBC will transfer. However, Towson University will accept only a maximum of 64 total units in transfer. Any general education requirements not completed prior to enrollment will be completed at Towson University. Students beginning the program at Towson University will complete their last year at CCBC to complete the requirements for the AAS in land surveying. 
 

Support


The Maryland Society of Surveyors Educational Trust (MSSET) offers scholarships and other support for students, and many CCBC students have been assisted by the MSSET. MSSET has occasionally partially funded an under-enrolled class so that it can run.  Likewise, through the generosity of the late Fred Ward, a notable Maryland surveyor, scholarship monies have been set aside at Towson University as the Frederick Y. Ward Scholarship to assist students who take advantage of the articulation agreement with CCBC. 

Robert “Bob” Banzhoff is survey program coordinator for the two-year survey degree and certificate programs at the Community College of Baltimore County at Catonsville, Maryland; editor of surveying for this magazine; and author of the monthly e-newsletter Field Notes.

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