Surveying the first flight; Show-Me state hosts gateway to information exchange; WAAS sites enable kinematic GPSers to soar with CORS; and Idaho to require four-year degree by 2010.

Surveying the First Flight

The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) and the North Carolina Geodetic Survey (NCGS) are joining the National Park Service (NPS) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903.

The event to be held Dec. 13 through 17, 2003, at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., is a weeklong celebration of the last 100 years of flight. Each day will have a theme relating to the past, present and future of flight. On the day of the celebration featuring the future, a 12" survey disk made by Berntsen International, Madison, Wis., will be dedicated at the National Park. GPS measurements will be taken and stored in the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) early next fall.

Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first flight from North Carolina’s Outer Banks near Kitty Hawk. They chose the site because the wind conditions and a lack of obstructions made it an ideal place to conduct their experiments.

Gary Thompson, RLS, chief of the NCGS, and Dave Doyle, NGS senior geodesist, came up with the idea of setting a survey monument at the site after learning of the planned celebration to be held by the NPS. According to Doyle, surveys done at airports are some of the most important surveys done today. “We’ve got to find creative ways to show off surveying. Surveyors don’t get near the recognition they deserve among the aeronautical community,” he says. “If an aircraft wants to land on a specific coordinate at the end of a runway, a qualified surveyor using the latest technology, such as GPS, has to have surveyed that point to make sure it is indeed there.” Doyle and Thompson felt that adding a surveying element to the Wright Brothers celebrations would be an effective way to add a learning opportunity about activities that require surveying.

When they approached the National Wright Brothers Memorial Park about setting the mark they received an enthusiastic response. The fact that they came prepared probably helped them achieve that response. They had already had Berntsen create the survey disk, which features a new logo designed by Susan Roemer, graphic artist for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). They walked into the Events Coordinator’s office at the park with the disk and pitched the idea to her. The idea and logo on the disk were received so well that the park employees want to add the logo to a new sign they are constructing for the park, which is currently undergoing renovations.

The monument will be set on a sand dune next to an existing memorial commemorating the first flight of the Wright brothers, placing it directly in the path of tourists. The date of the dedication is set for December 15, 2003.

The St. Louis Arch stood tall adjacent to the Adam’s Mark Hotel where the annual IHEEP conference was held.

Show-Me State Hosts Gateway to Information Exchange

Under a gloomy, gray St. Louis sky in mid-September, sunny faces and smiles could be seen at the annual International Highway Engineering Exchange Program (IHEEP) conference. From September 15-19, almost 270 attendees enjoyed transportation-related entertainment—and learning opportunities—for surveyors and engineers.

IHEEP is an organization that promotes the exchange of information relating to highway and bridge engineering. Specifically addressed is the use of information technology in the engineering process.

The St. Louis Arch, the Gateway to the West, stood tall adjacent to the Adam’s Mark Hotel where the conference was held. Attendees were able to learn of the important, arduous task many surveyors and engineers undertook in 1964-1966 to build the fascinating 630 ft. landmark while traveling to its summit. There they enjoyed the view as well as a history/engineering lesson about the construction of the arch.

The conference included numerous educational seminars classified under three tracks: engineering document management, bridge and transportation. Attendees, many obtaining continuing education credits, sat in on courses including spatial tools and applications, wireless technologies, data collection and warehousing, and a topic of much recent buzz: LandXML.

LandXML version 1.0, in an Autodesk-conducted seminar, was highlighted for its recent release and its promising and beneficial future. A data exchange format supported by several leaders in the industry including Autodesk (San Rafael, Calif.), Bentley (Exton, Pa.), CAiCE (Tampa, Fla.), Carlson Software (Maysville, Ky.), Eagle Point (Dubuque, Iowa), Infrasoft (Beverly, Mass.) and Trimble (Sunnyvale, Calif.), is based on the XML format and designed to transfer surveying and engineering design data among producers and consumers; provide a data format suitable for long-term data archival; and provide a standard format for electronic design submission.

Autodesk announced the release of LandXML Report Generator at the conference. The software extension works with project data created in Autodesk Land Desktop 3, Autodesk Civil Series, or any software application that writes LandXML data. Style sheet-type reports include customized reports, data transportation, meeting of output specifications and common templates.

Also Autodesk-related in the exhibit hall was the strategic placement of CAiCE Software in the booth next door. This was the first exhibit opportunity for both companies since the announcement of CAiCE’s acquisition by Autodesk in August. CAiCE’s product announcement at the conference was Visual PE 9.1.0. Visual PE 9.1.0 represents the next phase in CAiCE’s plans to provide timely enhancements and updates to its products including over 90 new commands and enhancements as well as numerous dialog box and user interface enhancements with the goal of making the software more intuitive and project-friendly. The new version is compatible with Windows XP, AutoCAD 2002 and MicroStation V8. In addition, new visualization capabilities for improved 3D imaging have been added and over 150 customer support incidents have been resolved.

Buses delivered IHEEP attendees to the Museum of Transportation to enjoy a traveling Buick exhibit from Michigan and a plethora of vintage railcars.
Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions showcased its much publicized GeoMedia products, including its version 5.0 of GeoMedia Transportation Manager and GeoMedia Transportation Analyst for linear referencing and spatial analysis.

Vendors contributed to the information sharing experience by delivering informative presentations. CAiCE and Bentley Civil sponsored a presentation titled “Futures in Design: Where are we going” jointly delivered by Alan Akman, founder and CEO of CAiCE and Gabe Norna of Bentley Civil. Michael Baker of IntelliWhere, a division of Intergraph Corporation’s Mapping and GIS Solutions business network, gave a presentation about mobile GIS called “Taking Your Data Into the Field,” which focused on how to create a more efficient and effective mobile workforce and the products that are available in that market.

Amidst the fun and entertainment of the conference, IHEEP got some business accomplished as well. Doug Fees, this year’s international president, commented, “I was glad to see the membership pass the new strategic plan.” Fees and others had been working to get the new plan implemented and through a final vote of the membership at their business meeting the effort paid off.

The end of the week included more interesting educational field trips. Buses delivered IHEEP attendees to the Museum of Transportation to enjoy a traveling Buick exhibit from Michigan and a plethora of vintage railcars. The trip continued on to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Traffic Information Center (TIC) to learn of the logistics for the state’s emergency response system and view two Motorist Assist Vehicles (MAVs). These vehicles, fully equipped to handle any road situation, help make 32,000 assists per year possible. The group then headed to the Boeing facility for a presentation on the St. Louis-Lambert airport expansion project.

Although the transportation crowd had to endure city traffic that added an extra hour or so to their travel time, IHEEP attendees were sure to learn and enjoy their time at the annual conference. Next year’s show (Sept. 27 to Oct. 2) takes IHEEPers to Cheyenne, Wyo. For more information, visit

WAAS Sites Enable Kinematic GPSers to Soar with CORS

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are collaborating to incorporate the Global Positioning System (GPS) base stations of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) into the National Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) network. WAAS sites located in Oakland, Calif.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Jacksonville, Fla. became operational as CORS in August 2002. At least 20 additional WAAS sites will join the CORS network over the next few months.

FAA is developing WAAS to promote safe and efficient air navigation. GPS data from the WAAS sites are transmitted to data processing centers where regional “correctors” to the GPS radio signals are computed. These correctors are then transmitted to GPS users via satellite to enable real-time positioning accurate to a few meters.

NOAA, through its CORS program, will publicly distribute the WAAS GPS data—together with GPS data gathered from hundreds of other ground-based stations—free of cost via the Internet. CORS GPS data enable GPS users to position points of interest with an accuracy of a few centimeters, but not in real time. CORS data also serve to enhance weather forecasting by monitoring the distribution of water vapor in the atmosphere and are used to monitor crustal motion.

The fact that each WAAS site records GPS radio signals each and every second will prove to be of great value to those CORS users involved in kinematic positioning; that is, in computing the travel path of a platform moving across the land or over the water or in the air. In the case of an aircraft remotely sensing features on Earth, for example, project specifications often require that the aircraft’s position be determined with a precision of a few decimeters once per second. GPS radio signals are recorded only once every 30 seconds at most other CORS. While it may be possible to interpolate GPS data from 30 seconds to 1 second, the availability of observed 1-second data removes the chore and uncertainty associated with interpolation. Other CORS partners have also established “1-second” GPS base stations, most notably the Departments of Transportation in Vermont, Michigan and Florida. WAAS sites, however, feature greater reliability because each site includes three independent GPS base stations to ensure continuity of operation for air navigation safety. WAAS GPS data also streams to NOAA in near real time, whereas most other CORS data arrive at NOAA either in hourly or daily packets. These three features: (1) a 1-second sampling rate, (2) triple station redundancy and (3) near real-time streaming input will provide CORS users with GPS data having a high sampling rate in a reliable and timely manner. These features will especially benefit those CORS users involved in kinematic positioning.

Idaho to Require Four-Year Degree by 2010

The Idaho Society of Professional Land Surveyors passed legislation that requires the professional land surveyor to have a four-year degree or related degree with the appropriate experience by 2010. House Bill 589 amends existing laws to revise the general requirements for the examination and licensure of professional land surveyors and land surveyors-in-training, effective July 1, 2010.

Associate Editor Emily Vass compiles “The Latest News.” If you have a timely, newsworthy item, contact her at 248/244-6465 or E-mail