Newsline: September 2009

September 1, 2009
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Court Awards Damages to NCEES in Exam Theft Case; ASPRS Board Approves LAS 1.3 Specification and ACSM FIG Forum Launches Student Fellowship Award.

Recording and transmitting devices found on defendant. Photo courtesy of NCEES

Court Awards Damages to NCEES in Exam Theft Case

The U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico ruled in favor of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) in a civil suit involving damages exceeding $1 million. The judgment resulted from the case of a civil engineering licensure candidate who was found with recording and transmitting equipment during the October 2006 administration of the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam in the city of Mayaguez.

Bethzaida Cameron Ortiz, 44, was discovered during the afternoon session of the administration after a proctor noticed her unusual behavior. The chief proctor confronted Cameron and discovered that the defendant was concealing recording and transmitting devices within her handbag and jacket, including a wireless audio/video transmitter, a small video camera, a pocket video recorder, a receiver, a device used to connect video cameras to a TV or computer, and batteries.

From information provided by law enforcement, NCEES officials later determined that Cameron had not only recorded the PE exam in 2006 but also performed a similar operation at the same location during the Fundamentals of Engineering exam in October 2005. As a result of these exam breaches, NCEES had to remove all compromised material from its exam item banks.

“The fact that we are a nonprofit that assists licensing boards means that this event in some way has affected everyone in the engineering and surveying professions and, ultimately, the public,” said NCEES Executive Director Jerry Carter. “We are pleased that this judgment was reached, and we are confident this will serve as a deterrent for anyone who might consider stealing exam content in the future.”

ASPRS Board Approves LAS 1.3 Specification

The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) released LAS 1.3, an open file format for LiDAR data storage and delivery. “ASPRS has been very proactive in accommodating the rapid advances in LiDAR hardware technology with frequent updates to the LAS specification,” said Jim Plasker, executive director of ASPRS, which owns the LAS specification.

The .LAS file format is a public file format for the interchange of 3D point cloud data between data users. Developed primarily for the exchange of LiDAR point cloud data, this format also supports the exchange of any 3D x, y, z tuplet. The .LAS file format maintains information specific to the LiDAR nature of the data while not being excessively complex. This binary file format is an alternative to proprietary systems or generic ASCII file interchange systems. The 1.3 release adds support for waveform encoding of laser returns. The encoding of this new data extension is optional and allows LAS 1.3 to be used as the specification in normal multireturn delivery products.

More than 50 hardware vendors, software developers, production companies, and private and public agencies participated in the development of this latest version of the specification, according to Plasker. The LAS 1.3 specification was approved by the ASPRS board of directors on July 14 and is available for immediate use. Go to to download the full specification.

ACSM FIG Forum Launches Student Fellowship Award

The ACSM FIG Forum in August announced the first ACSM FIG Forum FIG Congress Student Fellowship award. The award provides full funding for a student fellow to participate in the 2010 FIG Congress held April 11-16 in Sydney, Australia. The award is sponsored by the three ACSM Member Organizations that comprise the ACSM FIG Forum--the American Association for Geodetic Surveying (AAGS), the Geographic and Land Information Society (GLIS) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).

The student fellowship award includes round-trip transportation from the recipient’s home airport to Sydney, complimentary 2010 FIG Congress registration, official status as an ACSM FIG Forum Delegate, selected participation with the FIG Young Surveyors Network, meals, accommodations with a local surveyor/student family, and more.

Applicants must be currently enrolled at a four-year U.S. education institution in an ABET-accredited surveying/geomatics program, be a student member of ACSM, and have a current, valid passport. The winner will have a technical paper accepted by the ACSM FIG Forum through a peer review process and will present the paper at the FIG Congress. The deadline for paper submission is Oct. 30, 2009. For more information or to apply, visit

Associate Editor Wendy Lyons compiles “Newsline.” Contact her at 248/786-1620 or lyonsw@bnpmedia. Visit for daily news updates.

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