Land Survey School (18)

Assessing the Value of a Comprehensive Survey Engineering Program Curriculum

Dr. Steve Frank, former dean of the surveying program at New Mexico State University, said over dinner one night many years ago, “students will probably only use about 25% of what they learned in real professional practice.”  

We were shocked by this, after a 4-year NMSU surveying/engineering degree, you say “wait a minute, we are paying you $100,000 dollars and four years of our life to get this degree and you are only going to give us something that we will use 25% of the time?” Then he said, I don’t even know what 25% you will use, “program content used in professional practice will vary by student.”  For example, Tony you may use it in the geodesy side. Tim you may use it in the boundaries side, and Josh you may use it in the hydrographic surveying side.

That was some profound information, a golden nugget of information. It really made us change our perspective about WHY we are learning things and HOW we are learning.

So, in order to prepare you for all of the possibilities of surveying we have to give you such a broad base that you can go out and really do anything.

At NISET we are set up with our curriculum to provide such a broad level of knowledge. From Geodesy and photogrammetry to boundary surveying and construction, a wide variety of surveying information, that you could go out and jump right into your career as a surveyor after you graduate.

Over the past 10 or 15 years, there has been a really big push in multi-disciplinary programs. So, some programs have GIS combined with land surveying, computer science combined with land surveying, and construction management combined with land surveying. I think that’s really cool because we have to be able to practice with others in this 21st-century world.

But after teaching in one of these programs I realized that if you have 30 credit hours of information to give a student, would you rather give them 30 hours of land surveying or 15 hours of surveying and 15 hours of construction management. You’ve got to choose and thinking about how quickly land surveying has evolved over the past century, personally as the director of NISET I feel that we have to give you every land surveying course available that you need to practice. So, if you do not have subdivisions class when you leave your associates program, or you do not have a construction surveying course when you leave the certificate that would be a major deficiency. And it would set you up to have a much harder time to pass your NCEES exams and a much harder time practicing when you graduate.

So, we are 100% focused on land surveying, and that’s not to say that we ignore technology because we do UAS, Lidar, and machine operations so the newest surveying technology is absolutely covered. But we don’t go outside out our wheelhouse. I am a surveyor and I would never imagine teaching civil engineering and as a 21st century surveying, I want you guys to be 100% focused on your profession. So, if we focus solely as a school and as a program on surveying, we have a unique ability to set you up for success. In our courses we don’t just teach you random stuff from a book we teach lifetime skills focused on training. We don’t start from chapter 1 and go to chapter 20.

We focus on the sills necessary to practice for a lifetime, and if we do that than passing your survey exams is easy, because the exams are a mirror of what the profession really is and what NCEES expects the profession to be in 10, 20, 30 years. And that’s why the NISET curriculum is superior to almost or in my opinion every surveying or similar program in the country.

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