Surveyors Rendezvous 2004 & Student Competition

Surveyors gathered in St. Joseph, Missouri on the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark’s visit to Atchison, Kansas, just downstream.

A 3.280Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Each year, the goal of NSPS-sponsored competition is to encourage students to learn about the history of their profession, and to generate publicity/interest with the general public. Appearing at the 2004 Rendezvous were the students from the University of Akron Surveying program. Led by husband and wife instructor team Mike and Ann Besch, the team has quite an illustrious track record in the student competitions at the annual ACSM conference. Ann Besch submitted a brief history of the events that led to this year’s competition:

The first competition was held at the 2002 ACSM/FIG Conference in Washington, D.C. The theme was Roman Surveying. There were three parts: a research paper on Roman surveying equipment and methods, building/making the necessary equipment, and using the equipment to solve a construction layout-type problem, which they were given the morning of the competition. We also chose to dress the part. All six team members wore Roman togas; our two alternates dressed as Roman centurions and "guarded" the competition site. Akron took first place. If there had been a costume prize, I’m confident we would have won that, too.

The 2003 competition was held at the ACSM Conference in Phoenix. The theme was Lewis and Clark, in honor of the bicentennial of the expedition. Students were required to produce a research paper, manufacture and/or acquire the equipment and, for the competition, 1) determine latitude using a sextant, and 2) produce a map of a specified area. The second part was somewhat difficult since there is no grass in downtown Phoenix. We manufactured and acquired more equipment than actually required for the competition, and used it to set up a display in Vendor Hall. Once again, Akron took first place in the competition. Students from Renton Technical College in the state of Washington took the costume prize because they had military uniforms borrowed from a re-enactors, plus a real, live Newfoundland dog (ours was stuffed). Our display and the students’ knowledge and enthusiasm, as well as winning the competition, impressed a lot of people and, as a result, our students were invited to several other Lewis and Clark bicentennial events besides the SHS Rendezvous. NGS provided funding for the team to participate in the Signature Events at the Falls of the Ohio in Louisville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Indiana last October. In November of 2003, our students were featured at National G I S Day in Washington, D.C.

The 2004 competition was held at the ACSM Conference in Nashville. The research paper topic was Distance Measure in the United States: 1776 to Present. The competition problem involved measuring an approximately 1000-foot line non-electronically. This year, the costume theme was "Circa 1900." As usual we went with a military theme (Mike and I are both retired officers)–Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders of the Spanish-American War. This year, Akron won both the overall competition and the costume prize.

Meet the Students

Jared Akins graduated in August. He portrayed Captain William Clark in Phoenix and beyond. Jared was the party chief in both `03 and `04. He works for his Dad; in fact, he started holding a rod just about as soon as he could walk.

Dan Engle was an alternate in 2002 and a team member in both `03 and `04. He portrayed Sergeant Patrick Gass of the Corps of Discovery and drafted the map for the competition. He’s president of the surveying group (Gathering of Potential Surveyors) and has won several scholarships, including an ACSM scholarship in Nashville.

Heather Pierce is a senior this year. She has been a team member since the first competition and will be chief-ofparty this year. She has a nearly four-point average (one B in her whole college career) and has also received several scholarships. As Sacagawea, Heather is our resident expert on the transit, as she demonstrated in St. Joseph. Those who witnessed her presentation–when everything that could go wrong, did go wrong–were also impressed with the grace she exhibited under pressure.

Joel Metzger has been on both the `03 and `04 teams. He portrayed Private John Colter of the Corps, and he likes to be referred to as the "head chainman." Joel’s bio never seems to get included in research papers, and therefore he gets stuck with whatever the other students write about him. His dad is also a surveyor.

Dan, Heather and Joel will are all on the `05 team. The 2005 competition theme is plane table mapping (non-electronic, of course) and the costume theme is Civil War era. Las Vegas, look out!

A 3.280Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE