New Troy department prepares students for wide range of technical careers

Rakshak Adhikari
Staff Writer

Geospatial informatics launched this May under the College of Arts & Sciences, merging the preexisting surveying and geomatics science program in the math department with the faculty of geography from the department of social sciences.

The department offers a surveying and geomatics sciences program along with minors in unmanned aerial systems (UAS), geographic information systems (GIS), surveying and geomatics sciences and geography. The UAS, GIS, geography and surveying and geomatics sciences minors can all be completed online.

The department currently consists of five full-time faculty members, all with terminal degrees in their respective fields.

The programs offered by the department are technology-oriented in nature and intended to fully prepare students for careers in fields that have been seeing steady growth in recent years, said Xutong Niu, the chair of department of geospatial informatics.

Besides traditional surveying and mapping, students in the department have hands-on opportunities to learn cutting-edge geospatial technologies, such as mobile and web-based GIS design, development and application, including UAS/drone-based surveying and mapping, terrestrial 3D scanning, air-borne LiDAR application, and integration and development of GIS and GPS on mobile devices.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cartographer and photogrammetrists have a median pay of $64,430 with a projected growth much higher than average at 19%, while surveyors have a median pay of $62,580 with a projected growth of 11%.

The surveying and geomatics sciences program is the only such program in the state accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying has recognized the program twice with the Surveying Education Award.

According to Niu, more than 80% of the students in the department work as paid interns in their respective fields and receive academic credit for their work along with valuable hands-on experience.

Students are also provided with opportunities to work in different projects alongside their professors. In the past, students have worked on projects ranging from mapping forests for the National Forest Service, detecting remote archaeological sites from NRCS wetlands using air-borne LiDAR data , and mapping shorelines with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Samuel Luke Strickland, a senior surveying and geomatics sciences major from Clayton, Alabama, interned last summer with HRC, a surveying and engineering company. He said that his classes provided him with adequate skills that he needed to succeed as an intern.

“My supervisor was pleasantly surprised by some of the skills I had acquired,” Strickland said.

Graduates from Troy’s program have a wide variety of employment opportunities in various fields ranging from surveying, engineering and city planning to oil companies and real estate, said Steve Ramroop, an associate professor and director of  surveying and geomatics sciences program.

According to him, there is a large demand for geomatics graduates in the job market. Nine corporations have already registered to visit Troy Campus and meet with students this semester.

“We often have students being offered jobs before they graduate,” Ramroop said. “We have had companies offer to pay for a student’s tuition and even mortgages.”

The department also has a Facebook group “Troy University Geomatics” where job opportunities in the relevant fields are posted on a regular basis.

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