How One College Surveying Program has Benefited from the CST Exam

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This is a story of how an Indiana College has taken advantage of the Certified Surveying Technician (CST) Program since 1991. Vincennes University (VU) has been in existence since 1801. It is Indiana’s first college and is the only college in the nation founded by an individual who would later become President of the United States. William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. President, founded VU while serving as governor of the Indiana Territory, when he was instrumental in negotiating many treaties with Tecumseh, the great Chief of the Shawnee. It is not only appropriate to have a surveying program at VU based on its early history as capital but also a challenge in that the immediate area surrounding the city is not part of the USPLSS. The area has many types of land survey systems including Upper, Lower, and Cathlinette Surveys, Common Lands, Donations, Locations, Surveys, and Military Donations surrounding the city of Vincennes. We travel 20 miles to perform labs in the Rectangular System.

The VU Surveying Program began in 1975. Under the guidance of Art Haase, a program grew from a Civil Engineering Technician degree to a Commission of Higher Education approved Surveying Technology degree in 1977. The current curriculum includes all surveying classes required by Indiana Administrative Code to qualify for licensing exams in Indiana. See sidebar for the composition of the two-year program.

In addition to the Surveying Associate of Science degree, VU offers an Associate of Science degree in Civil Drafting/CAD and a Bachelor of Science in Surveying Management degree.

The VU Surveying program will normally graduate 10-12 students. There has always been a demand for VU Surveying graduates by the profession. Placement is done within the program and has always been 100% for those who wish to enter the surveying workforce.

Assessment is always in discussion in higher learning, but accreditation agents are now expecting an assessment instrument that provides regional or national comparisons. Are your students learning the necessary skills to be a productive member of the workforce? Many methods of determining how well your program has prepared your graduates have been used. We mostly base our assessment on job placement, salary advancement, and passing licensing exams. The VU accreditation body wanted to see a more immediate method. In 1991, the VU Surveying Program Department Chair, Art Haase, decided we would utilize the CST Exam for our national assessment. First year students would test at CST level one and second year students would test at CST level two.

Since then VU Surveying has had over 400 students take the CST exam. First year students traditionally pass the exam at an 80% rate, while second year students pass at a 75% rate. The second year students must also complete 700 hours of work experience with a Professional Surveyor. The successful completion of the exam has shown prospective employers that our students have achieved an understanding of the practical knowledge and application of the knowledge to a variety of surveying disciplines. The exam also is a test experience for the graduates who will pursue the professional licensing exams (over 50% of our graduates become Professional Surveyors).

Since 2004 Vincennes University has become the host site for taking the CST electronically. Through the efforts of Art Haase, current Dean of College of Technology and President of the CST Board, VU administers the CST exam through our Center for Teaching and Learning under the guidance of director Debbie Stanczak. There has been over 2500 participate to date.

The CST exam has become an integral part of our assessment efforts. We are in the third decade of evaluating the teaching efforts of the VU Surveying faculty and the learning results of our students. We will continue to use and benefit from the exam.

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A 3.507Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE