Surveying courses from a distance: Metro State College of Denver offers “distance delivery”; and ESA approves Galileo.

Herbert Stoughton, PhD, PLS, PE, head of MSCD’s Surveying and Mapping program, stays up to date on the latest technology relevant to the surveying profession as Brennan O'Neill, a certified Trimble trainer with Vectors Inc. demonstrates new equipment.

Surveying Courses From a Distance
Metro State College of Denver Offers “Distance Delivery”

In a time where many surveying degree programs are struggling, the Metropolitan State College of Denver’s (MSCD) Surveying and Mapping Degree program continues to thrive. A few years ago it was unclear if the program would even survive. Largely due to the efforts of Herbert Stoughton, PhD, PLS, PE, and head of the program, MSCD overcame its difficulties, expanding its curriculum and forming educational equivalency partnerships with community college and technical schools in and around Colorado. (See “Back on Track” in the January 2001 issue of POB for more on MSCD’s comeback.) Its latest step in the advancement of the surveying and mapping program is a “distance delivery” option. This new option provides professional surveyors and surveying students with easier access to college courses—without asking them to actually come to campus.

MSCD’s “distance delivery” for the surveying and mapping program was established in 2002; today it offers 13 courses on videotape and/or DVD. The program was established to provide surveying courses to students throughout the United States who live in rural areas or don’t have access to a surveying and mapping program, as is common in many areas. The program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree; individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree receive an automatic 90 credits toward a second bachelor’s degree. To date, the program has been well-received, evidenced by an enrollment growth of 200 percent since 1996. Students from across the nation are taking advantage of the “distance delivery” model.

Current or prospective MSCD students may simply go online to apply to the college and register for classes at This website provides answers to questions students may have about the academic nature of the courses they are interested in, and acts as a guide to help them navigate the registration process, order course materials, set up a proctor close to home, schedule exams, and finally to order a transcript of a course grade. All of this can be done without traveling to a campus. Instructors are available for course-related questions by E-mail or by telephone, and help with administrative aspects is as close as an E-mail or phone call to the distance delivery course administrator.

Distance delivery allows individual students and groups to customize their learning experience. In Grand Junction, Colo., seven members of the Western Chapter of Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado (PLSC) meet on Tuesday nights to watch the videotapes for Boundary Law II, the distance delivery course they chose for the current semester. Now on their third course, they are enjoying the benefits of group discussion and the weekly “class meetings” where they keep each other on track and motivated. In Telluride, Colo., eight employees of Foley Associates, a land surveying and civil engineering company, meet at the public library to watch the videotapes for Real Property Descriptions. On his way through Telluride two years ago, Stoughton met with the group when they were enrolled in Boundary Law I. Surveyors in New York or California, for example, could have similar group or individual classes just as easily.

Through the establishment of the distance delivery model at MSCD, surveying students are realizing tremendous cost and time benefits:

•students can select courses individually or as part of the degree completion program. Enrollment is year-round to better suit a person’s work schedule;

•students can take six months to complete a course;

•no class meetings are required;

•students can communicate with the course instructor by E-mail or telephone;

•students take exams close to home or their workplace;

•students can take courses on their own or set up a study group with co-workers;

•students who register with a group of six or more can receive a tuition discount (a great option for surveying companies); and

•tapes can be sent directly to the student’s home or workplace.

The MSCD surveying and mapping degree program continues to receive strong support from the Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado. There are now more than 100 declared majors, the program offers 31 courses and recent graduates have been able to secure their LS licensures and find work with surveying companies throughout the United States—proof of another successful move by MSCD.

ESA Approves Galileo

The European Space Agency (ESA) has reached an agreement with its member states and the European Union for the development of the Galileo satellite-based navigation system. The agreement comes just weeks ahead of an international conference where frequencies for the EU system and power levels for the next generation of GPS satellites will be determined.

The ESA noted in a statement that the agreement among its member states clears the way for the formation of the Galileo Joint Undertaking, which will have the task of coordinating the development and deployment of the Galileo system. The ESA members are: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland.

Ken Chamberlain, a land surveyor for the Bureau of Land Management in Portland, Ore., said Galileo would eventually make it easier for users operating in dense tree coverage to acquire satellite location signals, since there will be more satellites in use.

Ashok Wadwani, president of Applied Field Data Systems Inc., a GPS consultant in Houston, Texas, said the deployment of Galileo will mean that users eventually get a receiver capable of accessing both systems, obtaining a location signal from a mix of as many as five Galileo and five GPS satellites instead of just five GPS satellites today.

Galileo will transmit its signals within the same 1164-to-1559-MHz frequency band now used by GPS. The estimated cost of the European system is $3.7 billion. The agency expects to launch the first of 30 satellites (27 active and three spares) in 2006, with the final system completed in 2008. Look for more detailed Galileo coverage in Dr. James Reilly’s column, “The GPS Observer,” this September.

Herbert Stoughton, PhD, PLS, PE, contributed to the MSCD article. Associate Editor Emily Vass compiles “The Latest News.” If you have a timely, newsworthy item, contact her at 248/244-6465 or E-mail Also visit for daily news updates.