Dunwoody College of Technology - xyHt article

Located on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dunwoody College of Technology’s surveying and civil engineering technology program offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science, which provides students a comprehensive, hands-on education that prepares them for successful surveying or civil engineering technician careers.

The program has a dual focus on surveying and civil engineering. From intro courses to legal descriptions and boundary control, the program covers an array of foundational topics students will need to set them up successfully for enriching careers.

Through the guidance of principal instructor and licensed surveyor Kelly Ness, students gain hands-on experiences in surveying, drafting design, and materials testing. Surveying courses teach students how to operate industry-specific equipment, including the latest in GNSS (GPS) technology. Survey drawings and engineering plans are created using computer-aided drafting programs (CAD).

Arts and sciences courses round out the course of study, providing students with analytical, communication, and writing skills the industry demands of its professionals.

The program also prepares students to take the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) Certified Survey Technician (CST) Level I exam.

Dunwoody’s surveying program prospers by valuing innovation, practicality, and hands-on experience, even winning national accolades in the process.

NSPS Student Competition

Earlier this year, a group of students took home first place in the 2016 NSPS student competition. The team of students–Wyatt Spencer, BJ Klenke, Doug Pouliot, Joe Irey, Brandon Davis, Jake Blue–with leadership from Ness, completed a boundary and topographic survey on a parcel of land, approximately 10 acres, for a hypothetical land development project.

The competition required the team to create a “metes and bounds legal description” of the land lot and construct a plat map of the surveyed area. The boundary/topographic survey, along with a safety plan, field notes, and data calculations, were compiled into a final project binder and then presented to a panel of industry professionals and competition judges at the annual NSPS meeting in Washington, DC.

Jake Blue, a recent graduate of the program now working as a civil design technician, said,

We were successful in this competition, not only because we produced a good product but also because of the level of complexity we were able to address in our project. Quality instruction from experienced industry professionals gave us the background we needed to compete and win at a national level.

This was the first time the program competed in this national event, and the school could not have asked for a better outcome from the group.


It is by building and maintaining strong industry partnerships with top companies and organizations that the program is able to prosper and continue to be viable. For many years, the strongest industry partnership has been with RDO Integrated Controls. Through this partnership, Dunwoody purchased two Topcon HiPer SR receivers and Topcon Tesla data collectors through the Topcon Education Program.

In addition to this investment, RDO Integrated Controls provides four additional network rovers for use throughout each academic year. At the end of the academic year, they sell the used equipment at a discounted rate. This allows students to have hands-on experience with the newest equipment each year. By becoming familiar with the newest hardware, Dunwoody students have an edge when entering the workforce.

Dunwoody also partners with Frontier Precision and was able to purchase six Trimble M3 total stations through Trimble’s education program. The program also thrives by relying on its program advisory committee (PAC). PAC helps make decisions for the betterment of the program by soliciting industry input.

Connecting with local surveying, civil engineering and geomatics-related companies is an important part of the curriculum because we gain the kind of insight that is needed to be competitive candidates in the job market,

said Blue.

The newest era of technology will create a unique opportunity for surveying and civil engineering technology graduates. With technology rapidly evolving, Dunwoody is creating courses that integrate high definition surveying techniques, including laser scanning and UAS.

It is by continuing to embrace evolving technology and building and strengthening existing relationships with local businesses and industries that Dunwoody’s surveying and civil engineering technology graduates are prepared for successful careers.

About Dunwoody

Founded in 1914, Dunwoody College of Technology is one of the few institutions of its kind in the nation that is a private, non-profit technical college. It offers BachelorÕs and AssociateÕs degrees in a variety of technical fields. Dunwoody values a diverse faculty, support staff, and student body, as well as their unique contributions to an inclusive Dunwoody community.

The college was established from a sizable donation by William Hood Dunwoody. In his will, he stated that his purpose was to

Provide for all time, a place where youth, without distinction on account of race, color or religious prejudice, may learn the useful trades and crafts, and thereby fit themselves for the better performance of life’s duties.

The only private, non-profit technical college in the Upper Midwest, Dunwoody’s College of Technology has graduated more than 250,000 students. Dunwoody has an international reputation for providing outstanding education and producing graduates who are highly prepared to hit the ground running in the workforce.

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GeoSurv LLC is now a reseller for Agisoft PhotoScan Professional

More great news this week as GeoSurv LLC has become a dealer for Agisoft PhotoScan Professional.  We have been using the software for the last 3 years and we believe it's the best photogrammetry software available.

I look forward to helping customers develop their UAS programs and I hope surveyors are eager to adopt this technology.  The advantages are many and there's never been a better time to get started.

About GeoSurv LLC:

GeoSurv LLC is an FAA 333 exemption holder.  Contact me with questions about services, demos training or Agisoft PhotoScan Professional.

Survey Grade? Only if you're a Surveyor®

There’s a myriad of challenges facing the surveying profession today. Is a paradigm shift needed to protect the validity of hiring a licensed professional surveyor in the advent of the information age?

As we face these challenges, the public trusts surveyors (and only surveyors) as the authority when creating and retracing property boundaries. Additionally, surveyors are still highly regarded in the geospatial industry. However, hobbyists with drones are claiming to provide “survey grade” data quality, with no background in the fundamentals (or other tools required) that would be necessary to produce a professional product.

I started to notice something last summer while attending a seminar at an aviation event. One of the speakers was sharing the data he collected with his drone. During the presentation of his 3D model, he continually used the terms “surveying” and “mapping” with his drone, although he had no professional background in photogrammetry, surveying, or aviation.

I was in the audience thinking, “Do we really want to have people claiming they can ‘survey’ with their drones?”

Someone in the audience with obvious experience in aerial mapping asked, “What method did you use to establish ground control?”

The presenter responded, “We closed off the area to the public by posting people at the perimeter of the project site.” Okay, not exactly the ground control the person who asked the question, nor I, was thinking.

With the availability of online photogrammetry solutions increasing almost daily, paired with drone technology, there is an ever-increasing number of people collecting data and reporting precise/ accurate results. Could the paradigm shift be achieved by a body like the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) trademarking the terms “surveying” and “surveyor” to differentiate our professional practices from that of others?


1) It doesn’t require any new infrastructure. The NSPS and the state licensing boards already exist.

2) This would give NSPS a huge boost in membership, as you would need to be an active NSPS member to call yourself a Surveyor®. Together with a current NSPS membership, you would need to be a licensed professional surveyor in any states you practice. This body of united surveyors will be crucial to move forward with one voice.

3) The public would be aware of who has the tools to provide reliable data and who holds a license to practice as a professional.

The public needs to know there is a difference between the services we offer and what other non-licensed individuals who are creating maps offer. This would help give us visibility, at the same time allowing our profession to remain exclusive.

It’s the right time to take a step forward and trademark our profession. We are regarded as experts by the public; now let’s keep unlicensed people from purporting to be “surveyors,” completing a “survey,” or generating “survey grade” data. 

This article was published in the May 2016 issue of xyHt.