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October 31, 2003
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A pioneering exchange from IHEEP; NCEES tightens security on calculators; and FCC mandate affects GPS users.

Built in 1886, the beautiful and historic Union Pacific Depot anchors downtown Cheyenne.

A Pioneering Exchange from IHEEP

Every year, the International Highway Engineering Exchange Program (IHEEP) conference takes place in the president of the organization's hometown. The pioneering spirit that abounds in current president Michael Watters' hometown of Cheyenne, Wyo., made for a fitting venue for this year's conference. IHEEP is an international organization that promotes the exchange of information relating to highway and bridge engineering among its members.

Held under the wide Wyoming sky from September 28 to October 2, "Pioneering New Technologies" was this year's theme and the presentations, exhibitors and attendees stayed true to it throughout.

A breakout session on visualization was added this year for the first time, creating a fourth seminar track. This track featured visualization techniques and their marriage with laser-scanning techniques, electronic document management, engineering applications, hydrologic tools, automated routing systems, effective use of XML, project management and more.

To help the participating professionals with their pioneering efforts in transportation issues, several vendors were on hand to showcase their offerings. Intergraph (Huntsville, Ala.) displayed GeoSpatial HMS with powerful grid editing capabilities for hydrology, among other things. Leica Geosystems (Atlanta, Ga.) touted its CORS reference station solutions. The increasingly prevelant use of LiDAR technology was touched on by several presenters and exhibitors, such as Brad Adams of Bohannan Huston, an engineering firm located in Garland, Texas, who touted its usefulness in surveying hard-to-access places like the I-40 exchange in downtown Dallas, one of the most heavily trafficked exchanges in the country. At the Bentley (Exton, Pa.) booth, Civil Consultant Richard Morrow demonstrated MicroStation version 8.1's support for digital signatures and digital rights.

As always with IHEEP, there was fun to be had as well as learning. ESRI (Redlands, Calif.) and Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, Calif.) sponsored a tour of historic Fort D.A. Russell and Terry Bison ranch for conference delegates. Scenic Estes Park, Colo., was also on the agenda for touring by conference guests, as was the Warren Air Force base museum.

Tuesday's homestyle hot turkey sandwich lunch (not to mention the blackberry or cherry pie dessert) featured a drawing for prizes donated by sponsors-although the optical mice seemed to be the most coveted prizes-winners were enthusiastic to receive Wyoming hats and vendor T-shirts as well. That evening the Area V delegates from Europe exchanged more then engineering and transportation secrets; they brought along Old-World style wines, cheeses, chocolates and other delicious fare to share in the hospitality suite that was open for delegates each night of the conference.

Next year's "Exploration and Discovery in Transportation Technology"-themed conference takes place in Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 11-16, 2004.



NCEES Tightens Security on Calculators

Test-takers, get out your pencils and pads. The calculator you plan to use may be "illegal." Beginning with the April 2004 examination, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) will begin "strictly enforcing materials prohibited in examination rooms." Concerns with the security of its examinations has led the national organization to ban calculators with communication or text editing capabilities from all NCEES exam sites.

According to a statement issued by NCEES in late August, certain models of calculators might have been previously allowed in NCEES examination sites that provide communication capability through the use of infrared technology or through the use of cards that enable communication via radio transmission. In many cases, these models may also afford a text editing capability that enables the user to enter and store information in the calculator's memory. Those models will no longer be permissible. Backed by an established clause called Exam Policy 15, the latest restrictions will enforce the policy that prohibits devices or materials that might compromise the security of the examination or examination process.

Bill McComber, PLS, a past-president of the Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado (PLSC), has been involved in several committees for the Colorado Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors on interviewing candidates, and reviewing and writing exam questions, legislation, rulemaking, etc. He believes that the issue "is really a matter of enforcement. The policy rule has been there for some time, the problem being inequitable handling of [it] by the different jurisdictions. The burden now has been shifted to the examinee. If I were just now accepted to sit for an exam, I would certainly check with my local board as to what exactly was allowed, and further check with NCEES to see if that was acceptable with [its administrators]."

The new restrictions stem from an analysis report performed by NCEES, which presented problems such as instances of exam subversion in which candidates discussed problems with other test-takers in exam rooms, used copying and scanning on altered calculator devices, removed secured material such as specific exam questions, etc., and then pleaded a lack of awareness as to what constitutes exam subversion.

Solutions to such problems were included in the report, including the strict allowance of calculators from a designated list in the examination room (likely restricted to non-communicating, low-memory, scientific calculators without an alphanumeric keyboard). This solution will require keeping track of an ever-changing list of calculators available, monitoring enforcement by proctors from one jurisdiction to another, and placing the burden of verification on the exam proctors. Since the list of NCEES prohibited calculators was introduced in late August and in response to several Board of Registration administrators' concerns, NCEES has agreed to look more closely at the time table involved and may push back its implementation to the October 2004 cycle. In the meantime, affected individuals can voice their ideas and concerns to their Boards of Registration or directly to NCEES. More information is available at www.ncees.org/exams/calculators.

FCC Mandate Affects GPS Users

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has amended its rules to prohibit applications for new operations using 25 kHz channels. The FCC's aim is to promote efficient radio spectrum use and accelerate the move to 12.5 kHz narrowband channels. These rules cover VHF and UHF frequencies commonly used for survey and other RTK GPS applications. Specifically, as of Jan. 13, 2004, the amended rules will prohibit any applications for new operations using 25 kHz channels for any system operating in the 150-174 MHz or 421-512 MHz bands and it will allow incumbent 25 kHz Part 90 licensees in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz bands to make modifications to their systems, provided their respective authorized interference contours are not expanded as a result thereof.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2005, the rules prohibit the certification of any equipment capable of operating at one voice path per 25 kHz of spectrum, i.e., multi-mode equipment that includes a 25 kHz mode and beginning Jan. 1, 2008, they will prohibit the manufacture and importation of any 25 kHz equipment (including multi-mode equipment that can operate on a 25 kHz bandwidth). As of Jan. 1, 2013, non-public safety licensees using channels in these bands will be required to deploy technology that achieves the equivalent of one voice path per 12.5 kHz of spectrum.

Currently, most precision applications make use of narrowband radio frequencies that are licensed for 25 kHz channels. Users that have an existing licensed system may continue to operate their systems without change. Current users should review their licensing and make sure that the area of coverage and number of transmitters on the license is up to date. If not, they should contact a licensing service immediately to meet the pending deadlines.

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