From monitoring an endangered bird’s habitat to plotting crime trends for the police department, students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in geomatics at Nicholls State University have a number of service learning opportunities. In fact, at this Thibodaux, Louisiana-university, a zero-credit hour service learning course is mandatory. Each semester, a student is required to complete at least 30-45 hours of service learning activities, which are mapped out at the beginning of the semester. The goal? To make them better citizens and professionals beyond what they learn in the classroom.

It’s just one way that this university prepares its students for the workforce. This ABET-accredited  program is the only one of its kind in the state, and while it’s small, it’s mighty and it boasts dedicated faculty, including Balaji Ramachandran, associate professor and the geomatics program coordinator. Ramachandran, who has been at Nicholls since 2004, helped develop the program into what it is today, and he knows that cultivating relationships is integral when it comes to launching a career after graduation. That’s why he and his colleagues have worked hard to build bonds with local industry while providing top-notch land surveying courses to students.

“Nicholls Geomatics program is the best kept secret south of I-10,” Ramachandran says. “The program offers a well-rounded curriculum that prepares students to meet the workforce demands and pursue graduate studies.”

Having these relationships is especially helpful when students get further into their land surveying education. In fact, during their junior year, they are required to complete a mandatory summer internship. Ramachandran says that a high percentage of the students receive job offers from the firms where they’ve completed their internship with at the end of the summer. 

“Due to their exposure to emerging geospatial technologies our students usually get multiple job offers upon graduation,” he says. “They have gone to work for top surveying, civil, and environmental engineering firms across the nation. Some are working for federal and state agencies such as NGA, USACE, LADOTD, planning commission and parish governments.”

Since the program’s inception in 2003, it has secured $4 million in grants each year and it gives out 15 scholarships that range from $1,000 to $5,000. It boasts two state-of-the-art facilities, including the Geospatial Technology Center and the Harold Charles Poche Laser Scanning Lab, and the department received the NCEES Surveying Education Award in both 2016 and 2017. These are big accomplishments for such a small program.

Louisiana requires a four-year degree and 30 credit hours in surveying-related courses. Fifteen of those hours should be surveying — one must be boundaries — while 12 hours should be related to mapping and three credits must be about real estate.

Students in the geomatics program at Nicholls State University must complete the following courses:

Freshman year (fall semester):

  • GEOM 104: Geomatics Service Learning
  • GEOM 111: Geomatics Methods 
  • ENGL 101: English Composition I
  • MATH 165: Calculus I
  • EGSC 111: Engineering and Graphic with Computer Aid Drawing
  • Freshman Seminar Course

 Freshman year (spring semester):

  • GEOM 104: Geomatics Service Learning
  • MATH 166: Calculus II
  • GEOM 112: Geomatics Methods II
  • EGSC 222: Geovisualization
  • ENGL 102: English Composition II
  • GEOL 101: Physical Geology

 Sophomore year (fall semester):

  • GEOM 104: Geomatics Service Learning
  • GEOM 205: Problems in Geomatics
  • Humanities Elective
  • ECON 244: Surveying of Economic Principles
  • MATH 301: Elementary Statistical Methods I
  • PHYS 201: General Physics I

 Sophomore year (spring semester):

  • GEOM 104: Geomatics Service Learning
  • GEOM 207: Geodesy and Geodetic Coordinates I
  • GEOM 209: Geographic Information System Theory & Applications
  • CMPS 130: Introduction to Computer Science I
  • PHYS 202: General Physics II
  • SPCH 101: Fundamentals of Public Speaking

 Junior year (fall semester):

  • GEOM 104: Geomatics Service Learning
  • GEOM 218: Photogrammetry
  • GEOM 306: Measurement of Science I
  • GEOM 307: Geodesy and Geodetic Coordinates II
  • GEOM 309: Advanced Geographic Information Systems
  • FINC 341: Principles of Real Estate

Junior year (spring semester):

  • GEOM 104: Geomatics Service Learning
  • GEOM 302: Route & Construction Surveys
  • GEOM 318: Photogrammetry II
  • GEOM 406: Measurement Science II
  • Humanities Elective
  • GEOM 340: Internship
  • ENGL 368 or 468: Technical Writing

Senior year (fall semester):

  • GEOM 104: Geomatics Service Learning
  • GEOM 401: Subdivision Design and Platting 
  • GEOM 405: Geodetic Positioning System
  • GEOM 418: Remote Sensing
  • Humanities Elective
  • Fine Arts Elective

Senior year (spring semester):

  • GEOM 104: Geomatics Service Learning
  • GEOM 301: Boundary and Legal Principles
  • GEOM 410: Survey Practice
  • GEOM 440: Senior Seminar
  • Biology Elective
  • Social Sciences Elective


For more information on the geomatics program at Nicholls State University, visit them online.