College is filled with non-traditional students who are balancing the demands of life beyond the classroom. That’s why it’s so important to have flexibility in course offerings, and it’s why over the last few years, Idaho State University’s ABET accredited Surveying and Geomatics Engineering Technology program moved to offering its classes online.
“We strive to develop online courses for students who are already working in the field of surveying in some capacity,” says Robert Liimakka, assistant professor and program coordinator. “We realize that many of our students are non-traditional in that they have jobs and family obligations. Therefore, we have developed online content that does not require scheduled meeting times. The course content is available to students when it is convenient for them to study.”
In order to develop quality online courses, each member of the faculty has had Quality Matters training.
“Certified courses are peer reviewed for alignment of course objectives, student outcomes and assessments,” he notes.
Because every student has a different career path, the university offers three options for those interested in land surveying courses: a four-year bachelor of science degree in Surveying and Geomatics Engineering Technology, in addition to two certificates. The bachelor of science program has a two plus two setup, Liimakka notes.
“A student must have completed an associate of applied science degree in civil engineering technology at ISU or an equivalent degree if you’re transferring in, or permission of a program coordinator,” he says. “What that means is that all students accepted into our four-year program must initially first earn a two-year associate degree in civil engineering technology that’s built in to the program, so there’s no additional coursework required,” he says.
A basic technical certificate in surveying, which is designed for survey technicians, is also offered here. It consists of 24 credits of core surveying courses that prepare students for the National Society of Professional Surveyors certified survey technician exam. The academic certificate in land surveying is the final offering. “This is designed for individuals possessing a four-year degree related to surveying or geomatics, people who wish to obtain land surveying credits needed for licensure,” he says, and this certificate carries 30 upper division surveying credits. They university worked closely with the Idaho Board of Licensing to develop the certificate.
Those with prior work experience can obtain credit if they meet certain criteria, he adds, through the Prior Learning Assessment. If a student has a long history in the public land surveying system or construction surveying, for example, they can get credit if they can demonstrate through portfolio and documented work experience. That way the student doesn’t have to sit through a course related to something they are well-versed in.
During their time in the program, students are required to have a licensed land surveyor as a mentor. This person oversees any lab work and provides access to equipment, software and more.
“Mentors and students both sign a contract agreement, which lists student and mentor responsibilities,” he says. “We feel this ensures and maintains integrity in the educational process.”
A four-year degree is required in Idaho in order to become a licensed land surveyor. This program requires 130-133 semester hours of course credit. Some of the core surveying courses are as follows: