CORVALLIS, Ore. – The School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University is forming a partnership with two industry-leading companies to help address the need for more geospatial surveying professionals and embrace the trend toward “geomatics,” as this age-old profession evolves in an era of sophisticated 3-D data flow, remote sensing, and other new technologies.
OSU has signed a memorandum of understanding with David Evans and Associates, Inc., and Leica Geosystems, Inc.
Through this three-way partnership, Leica Geosystems will make available hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of state-of-the-art geospatial equipment and software for use by OSU students on an ongoing basis. Industry experts from David Evans and Associates will work closely with OSU students and faculty in training and laboratory studies. Increased geomatics research efforts, course expansion, and new faculty are also anticipated as a result of this industry and education initiative.
“Understanding land surveying and data capture has been, and will always be, an integral part of being a civil engineer or construction manager,” said Scott Ashford, professor and head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering, a major educational program at OSU with about 1,000 students.
“But the new techniques of land surveying and 3-D data capture now incorporate so many new technologies that it’s become the science of geomatics, and our educational programs have to reflect these changes in the industry,” Ashford said.
“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 this assistance.”
Another aspect of the problem, Ashford said, is the nation faces an increasing shortage of professional geospatial information surveyors, which are essential to the type of infrastructure improvements, road building and construction projects that are now envisioned as part of the nation’s economic recovery effort. The average age of a surveying professional is 56, and many new geomatics professionals are needed in this field, skilled in the latest technologies.
“We believe that industry and manufacturers should share in the social responsibility to help educational institutions stay on top of new technologies, changing work flow methodology, and new techniques in capturing 3-D spatial data,” said Ken Mooyman, president and CEO of Leica Geosystems, Inc. “We recently endorsed this unique concept at the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, and are proud to be part of this strategic partnership.”
Jim Griffis, senior vice president of David Evans and Associates, Inc., said “t takes significant planning, time, and ongoing commitment from all parties to make it successful. DEA is a leader in the civil engineering industry and we need to help set the education bar at higher levels to continue hiring graduates that understand the latest in geomatic sciences.”
Some new technology to capture geospatial data, such as 3-D laser scanners called LIDAR – for Light Detection And Ranging – are now routinely used to allow a geomatics surveyor to accomplish as much in a day as used to be done in several weeks. But much of this is done in an office as well as the field, Ashford said, using advanced design and processing software, 3-D mapping, and geographic information systems. This makes surveying more complex than ever, but also more cost efficient, accurate and with fewer time delays.
“We’re already in the era where we have ‘stakeless design and construction’ on some road building jobs, where an operator runs the grader but a global positioning system tells it where to go, when to turn and how deep of a grade to cut,” Ashford said. “This is a huge industry transformation and the next five or 10 years are going to see even more changes. Students working with these programs really get into it – it’s perfectly suited for the PlayStation generation.”
Undergraduate students at OSU getting a degree in civil and construction engineering will have enough surveying courses available that they can take the state surveying exam to become a licensed professional, Ashford said. Through this initiative, OSU hopes to garner additional industrial support for an endowed professorship in this area and become one of the leading geomatics programs in the nation, he said.
“Geomatics is in the future of our profession, and we need more higher education programs to get involved in it,” Ashford said. “We need new research on the latest applications, resulting in high paying, professional jobs that provide opportunity for our graduates.”
About David Evans and Associates: DEA is headquartered in Portland, Ore. This national leader in sustainable design and management solutions is consistently ranked among Engineering News Record's Top 100 Pure Design firms in the U.S. DEA was also voted one of the top 10 civil engineering design companies to work for in 2008 by Civil Engineering News.
About Leica Geosystems – when it has to be right: With close to 200 years of pioneering solutions to measure the world, Leica Geosystems products and services are trusted by professionals worldwide to help them capture, analyze, and present spatial information. Leica Geosystems is best known for its broad array of products that capture accurately, model quickly, analyze easily, and visualize and present spatial information. Based in Heerbrugg, Switzerland, Leica Geosystems is a global company with tens of thousands of customers supported by more than 3500 employees in 28 countries and hundreds of partners located in more than 120 countries around the world. Leica Geosystems is part of the Hexagon Group, Sweden.