Point of Beginning

Newsline: May 2009

April 29, 2009
FLAIR Act Reintroduced in Congress; Purdue Eliminates Surveying Degree in Favor of Broader Geospatial Science Focus; GPS IIR-20(M) Successfully Transmits L5 Signal; Exhibit Showcases Early Adirondack Maps and more.

Published in the Gentleman’s Magazine, 1757, this Adirondack Museum map, labeled “This Country by Reason of Mountains, Swamps and Drowned Lands is impassable and uninhabited,” covers the contested terrain between Albany and Quebec City.


FLAIR Act Reintroduced in Congress

A bill to develop an inventory of all federal real property to assist with federal land management, resource conservation, environmental protection and use of real property was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in March. “The bill would establish a multipurpose cadastre or an interoperable parcel-based geographic information system,” said John Palatiello, executive director of MAPPS, the national association of private geospatial firms. “This is a prime example of an opportunity of ‘map it once, use it many times.’”

The Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform Act of 2009, commonly referred to as the FLAIR Act, requires the Secretary of the Interior to develop a cadastre of federal real property and identify inaccurate, duplicate and out-of-date federal land inventories. While MAPPS fully supports the current bill, the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) has yet to reach consensus. “ACSM certainly supports the goals stated in the FLAIR and the use of appropriate procurement of surveying and mapping services as they may be used to achieve those goals,” said Curt Sumner, ACSM executive director. “However, ACSM didn’t take a solid position on the FLAIR Act previously due to the fact that there was not consensus among our member organizations regarding the reach of the procurement clause in the bill. ACSM continues to monitor the bill and is hopeful that we can resolve any concerns of our member organizations so that we will be able to officially demonstrate support for the bill’s goals.” To read the full text of the bill or track its progress, go to thomas.loc.gov.

Purdue Eliminates Surveying Degree in Favor of Broader Geospatial Science Focus

Purdue University is terminating its Bachelor of Science degree in land surveying and geomatics engineering (BS LSGE) in May after its launch 36 years ago. The university will offer a land surveying minor within the Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering as well as within its graduate degrees in geomatics. ABET accreditation, which was first granted in 1986, also ends this month.

The change comes nearly two years after the university announced its controversial administrative decision in July 2007 to move surveying from the School of Civil Engineering to the Department of Engineering Education--a multidisciplinary engineering studies program--in an effort to produce more graduates eligible to be registered as professional land surveyors. “Although there are many people within the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors–and beyond–who were (and continue to be) very upset that the university was even looking at the program, it has been clear, at least to me, that such an assessment was necessary,” said Gary R. Kent, PLS, of The Schneider Corp., who co-chaired an ad-hoc Geospatial and Surveying Education Development Committee, which the university charged with developing recommendations to enhance Purdue’s undergraduate and graduate programs in the geomatics/surveying area.

The committee met in person twice, and a report was issued in August 2008, Kent said. “Although the report was not embraced by all members of the committee with respect to the undergraduate program, the primary recommendation was to create an interdisciplinary/cross-college ‘division’ within the university. This concept has been embraced by the dean and, in fact, there have been meetings between the deans of the colleges of engineering, science, agriculture and technology and others, including the provost, and they have agreed to move forward to create a four-year academic program in geospatial science and engineering. Creating this program will, of course, take some time in the university environment, but nevertheless it is a very exciting development for geospatial education--of which surveying is a part--in Indiana and, ultimately, across the country.”

Purdue’s civil engineering faculty approved the new land surveying minor at the end of March 2009 and has submitted it to the registrar for final approval, according at Steven D. Johnson, PhD, of the School of Civil Engineering’s Department of Geomatics Engineering. “The minor right now consists of 10 courses comprising 31 credits in surveying and engineering,” Johnson said. “The Indiana land surveying board will consider the minor program this month [April].” Implementation of the minor program is expected for fall 2009.

Time series and power spectrum of the L5 demonstration signal. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Air Force Base.

GPS IIR-20(M) Successfully Transmits L5 Signal

The U.S. Air Force GPS IIR-20(M) satellite launched in March successfully transmitted its first GPS signal in the L5 frequency band on April 10. “Today’s event marks another important step in the ongoing effort to maintain and modernize GPS as the global standard for space-based positioning, navigation and timing,” said Joel Szabat, deputy assistant secretary for transportation policy, U.S. Department of Transportation.

This seventh modernized GPS IIR-20 satellite, which was launched March 24 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., joins the constellation of 31 operational satellites on orbit providing increased overall performance of GPS services to users worldwide, including two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption, anti-jamming capabilities, and a second civil signal to provide dual-frequency capability and improve resistance to interference, according to Los Angeles Air Force Base officials. “The GPS constellation is being modernized to improve operations, sustainment, and overall performance of GPS services for the warfighter, international, commercial and civil users,” said Col. David Madden, commander, Global Positioning Systems Wing. “These improved capabilities ensure GPS remains the gold standard for positioning, navigation and timing service.”

GPS IIR-20(M) will assume the plane B, slot 2 position replacing space vehicle number 30. The satellite was expected to be set healthy for navigation users worldwide in April. The last GPS IIR-M satellite is scheduled for launch in August.

USGS Topo Maps Increase in Price

The price of the USGS 1:24,000 scale topographic quadrangle map, commonly called a “topo” or “quad,” increased $2 per sheet to $8 in March, and larger format “poster” maps increased $3 per sheet to $10. “Even at the new prices, these maps are still a great bargain considering the wealth of geographic information they provide,” said Kevin Gallagher, associate director of the Geospatial Information Office.

“The USGS takes this action reluctantly,” Gallagher said of the price increase, which was last adjusted seven years ago. “However, recent studies indicated that previous map prices did not allow us to sufficiently recover the actual costs of reproduction and distribution.” Information on where and how to purchase USGS maps is available at the USGS Store, store.usgs.gov.

Surveyors Enjoy a Learning Adventure

Twenty-one professional land surveyors and their families were aboard the Carnival Splendor March 1-8 for the 2009 Land Surveyor’s Workshops (LSW) continuing education cruise. While this number was down from the record of 72 surveyors who joined the cruise in 2007, Larry Phipps, PLS, president of LSW, said that he was pleased with this year’s turnout given the challenging state of the economy. “Where else can you attend class and glance out the window to see whales?” Phipps said.

While at sea, surveyors were able to attend classes presented by John (J.B.) Stahl, PLS, on the topics of expert testimony disclosure under Federal Rule 26, the “First Surveyor Doctrine,” conflict resolution, sharing electronic files, and electronic seals and signatures. Classes presented by Phipps addressed “the anatomy of a claim,” pricing of professional services, ethics and “the seven deadly sins of surveying.” Up to 24 professional development hour (PDH) credits were available to cruise participants; however, all classes were optional. Phipps noted that the average participant earned 10 to 12 PDH credits during the seven-day cruise. Classes were not held while the ship was in port.

Planning is already under way for the 2010 cruise, which will depart on Feb. 21 from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with stops in Key West, Fla., Grand Cayman Island; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. For more information, visit www.landsurveys.com/cruise.htm.

Exhibit Showcases Early Adirondack Maps

An exhibit of maps, paintings, prints and photographs illustrating the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by early cartographers, artists and photographers--A ‘Wild, Unsettled Country’: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks--opens at the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y., on May 22.

A dozen rare and significant maps from the museum’s research library collection, including the “1704 Edition of Lahontan’s Voyages” by the Baron Louis-Armand de Lom d’Arce Lahontan, demonstrate the growth of knowledge about the Adirondacks from a mysterious “wild, barren tract” to a tourist destination by 1870. The exhibit will also showcase more than 40 paintings from the museum’s collection as well as engravings and lithographs of Adirondack landscape paintings that brought these images to a wider audience and provided many Americans with their first glimpse of the “howling wilds.” The first photographic landscape studies made in the Adirondacks by William James Stillman in 1859 have never before been exhibited. The exhibit runs through Oct. 17, 2010. For more information, visit www.adkmuseum.org.

Tom Brokaw to Keynote Intergraph 2009

Broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw is the guest keynote speaker for the Intergraph 2009 international users’ conference June 15-18 in Washington, D.C. The conference theme is “Powering the Future,” and Brokaw’s speech will address how today’s challenging economic times can enable the current generation to define itself and power the future just as the Great Depression created what Brokaw has coined “the greatest generation.” For more information, visit www.intergraph2009.com.