Student Competition - Roman Surveying

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(article excerpted from ACSM Bulletin May/June 2002)


by Pat Beehler, NSPS Education Committee Chairman


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Student Competitors


During their annual meetings held in Las Vegas in the spring of 2001, the leaders of the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) adopted the idea of a student project competition.  Participants in the competition would be teams of students who are attending college and university educational programs directed toward the surveying profession.  Planned to be scheduled as an event during future ACSM annual conferences, the student competition is expected to become a "tradition."


For many years, students enrolled in the surveying programs throughout the country have attended the annual ACSM conferences.  They volunteer to help with conference logistics, and serve as representatives of their respective schools at exhibit hall booths.  The concept of a student project competition was proposed as a mechanism to attract more students to the conferences, and to make their attendance a more meaningful experience.


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On Tuesday afternoon, April 23, 2002, during the XXII FIG Congress and the annual ACSM conference, the inaugural competition was finalized with field surveying exercises among six teams (University of Akron, Community College of Southern Nevada, Texas A&M University, New Mexico State University, Ferris State University, Southern Polytechnic State University).  The clear, somewhat blustery, spring day present to both the competitors and the observers the opportunity to interact with each other, and the challenge to stay warm.  In addition to the team members and their respective faculty advisors, five judges and approximately fifty interested onlookers were in attendance.  The theme for 2002 was "Roman Era Surveying Equipment and Techniques."


The criteria for the competition, developed by the NSPS Education Committee, included:

1.  A research paper on Roman equipment and methods (25 percent)

2.  Reproduction of Roman equipment (25 percent); and

3.  Layout and leveling of a structure (50 percent).


Each of the six teams submitted their research papers for review and grading by the five judges prior to arriving at the conference.  The equipment reproductions, and the knowledge of the teams in using them, were observed and graded during the field exercises.


The judges shared comments regarding factors in each category that affected their decisions.  In the research paper category, rephrasing sources in the team's own words and the inclusion of pictures and diagrams earned points.  Equipment reproduction was judged for historical accuracy.  Authenticity of accessories (wax tablet, cast lead plumb bob) and markings in Roman units gained points, as well as knowledge of the Roman units.


In field exercises, judges were looking for a demonstrated knowledge of how to use the equipment and the ability to work as a team.  Aggressive pursuit of the work, confidence and cooperation, and recognition of "who is the boss" were scored.


Several teams came to the field exercises in period costumes.  While no extra credit was given for them, the judges indicated that they expect to award a prize for the Best Costumes next year.


University of Akron Community College of Southern Nevada Texas A&M University New Mexico State University Ferris State University Southern Polytechnic State University



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