NMSU’s Modernized Geomatics/Survey Engineering Program Wins Award

LAS CRUCES – The National Board of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying has awarded its 2022 Surveying Education Grand Prize to the Geomatics/Surveying Engineering program at New York State University. Mexico. The $25,000 grand prize is the second received by NMSU, the first awarded in 2019. The NMSU program received a $10,000 prize in 2017 and a $15,000 prize in 2020 from the organization.

The NCEES Surveying Education Award recognizes surveying/geomatics programs that have a broad and strong curriculum and best reflect NCEES’ mission to advance the licensing of surveyors to protect the health, safety and public welfare. The award aims to modernize the geomatics curriculum, encourage programs to engage their students with other professionals, introduce them to historical and new technologies, and promote licensure.

In recent years, the College of Engineering has made significant changes to the program to keep pace with changing technology in the profession to include a focus on geomatics and to make the program more accessible to students. The program has been redesigned with substantial leadership and support from industry, state and national trade associations to meet current and future industry demands.

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The Geomatics/Surveying program has raised over $500,000 from private donors, the New Mexico Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and including NCEES awards, to modernize classrooms, update curriculum, support students , buy new advanced technologies such as satellites, drones and high-resolution scanners.

“Geomatics and surveying are closely linked. But geomatics is more encompassing than surveying. Surveying involves determining the precise location of objects on, above, and below the Earth’s surface. In the past, this was done with equipment such as chains and transits. However, with the increasing use of modern technologies, geomatics has become more important. Geomatics is an applied science and technical field that relies on modern technologies. Geomatics now includes not only the measurement of locations, but also the analysis and management of spatial data relating to the Earth,” said Professor Ahmed Elaksher, Geomatics Coordinator.

With the advancement of new technologies, employers are increasingly looking for graduates with a four-year bachelor’s degree in surveying or geomatics: NMSU offers the only four-year degree program in geomatics/surveying engineering in New Mexico. A bachelor’s degree is required to register as a professional land surveyor in the state of New Mexico, as well as to work in the geospatial industry for private surveying, construction and engineering companies, state and national road services, land commissions and agencies.

“Graduates should not only be trained in the use of modern technologies, but also equipped with the knowledge and understanding to effectively collect, analyze and interpret geospatial data. This is unachievable without a four-year degree,” Elaksher said.

Additionally, many states require a degree from an ABET-accredited program for licensure. NMSU’s Geomatics program was accredited in 2021 by the Accreditation Commission for Applied and Natural Sciences of ABET, the global accreditor for college and university programs in the applied and natural sciences, computer science, engineering, and technology engineering.

ABET accreditation ensures programs meet standards to produce graduates ready to enter critical technical fields that pave the way for innovation and emerging technologies, and anticipate public welfare and safety needs.

“Recently, there has been a rapid growth in jobs being created each year in this field and there is a great need for qualified graduates with the knowledge and skills to use geospatial technologies in many mapping activities.”

To meet these needs, NMSU has made the program more accessible to students. A room is equipped with technology to teach geomatics courses online. The flexible program allows students to take two years at a community college and two years at NMSU, either face-to-face or online to complete the degree. Two-year articulation agreements between NMSU and other institutions have been established to facilitate this process.

Courses cover a wide range of classical and contemporary topics in surveying and geomatics. Topics include the public land survey system, legal principles and boundary law, spatial data adjustment, ethics and professionalism in surveying and mapping, GNSS positioning, accurate aerial mapping , construction surveying and emerging techniques in geospatial technologies.

Students learn new technologies such as drones, laser scanning, satellite positioning, and automated machine control. Students are also required to complete an internship under the supervision of a professional land surveyor.

“The course gives students the opportunity to earn academic credit by participating in a real-world mission. These courses equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to be high-quality, academically competent and fully capable of distinguishing themselves in their profession,” Elaksher said.

Geomatics is very important in today’s life. Surveyors provide reliable data for most geographic information systems used in urban planning, disaster management, and natural resource conservation. Geomatics is essential to avoid creating digital twins that allow architects and engineers to design new facilities. Accurate mobile mapping deliverables are essential for smart cities and autonomous driving systems.

“It’s a very popular area. With more and more surveyors retiring across the country and the rapid progress in this field, the demand for well-trained and qualified surveyors is surging,” said Dean of the College of Engineering Lakshmi N. Reddi. “Our geomatics graduates have 100% employment and earn very competitive salaries.

“EYE ON RESEARCH” is provided by New Mexico State University. This week’s article was written by Linda Frescoes from the College of Engineering. She can be reached at 575-646-7416, [email protected].

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