Students from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., stake out a curve on the national park grounds under the St. Louis Arch for the annual NSPS Surveying Student Competition.

Embracing St. Louis’ roots as the “Gateway to the West,” more than 1,400 attendees gathered on March 9-12 for the annual American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) Conference and Technology Exhibit. This year’s conference, themed “The Gateway to Elevating the Profile of the Surveying and Mapping Professional,” was hosted by ACSM, the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA) and the Missouri Society of Professional Surveyors (MSPS). Members of the surveying and mapping profession networked and learned about the latest technologies, services and products on display in the exhibit hall that welcomed more than 80 exhibitors. Registrants also attended 41 workshops and 24 technical sessions. Here’s a snapshot of some of the special events that occurred at the conference.

Student Surveying Competition

A total of 117 college and university students attended ACSM this year, many of whom participated in the sixth annual NSPS Surveying Student Competition on Saturday, March 10. This year’s field exercise on the theme of historical railroad surveying took place on the national park grounds under the St. Louis Arch. A total of 11 teams participated in the event. For the second year in a row, Ferris State University (Michigan) received first place for its award-winning paper and field exercise. Closely tailing FSU for the third consecutive year was the University of Akron (Ohio), the legendary winners of the optional costume competition. The team from the University of Puerto Rico returned to ACSM for a second year to take third place.

ACSM Executive Director Curt Sumner congratulates Patrick Kalen, PLS, of Fairbanks, Alaska, the winner of this year’s NSPS Surveying Excellence Award sponsored by POB magazine.

Scholarships and Awards

Each year, NSPS, its member organizations and industry manufacturers award thousands of dollars in scholarships and awards to industry professionals and college and university surveying students. Honored professionals and students are recognized at the spring conference awards banquet. The scholarships are a great opportunity for students in surveying, mapping, geographic information systems and geodetic science programs, and the awards honor outstanding individuals dedicated to the surveying profession.

The student scholarship winners include Nicholas Battjes (AAGS Joseph F. Dracup Scholarship), Krage Caverly (ACSM Fellows Scholarship), Brian Romsek (Schonstedt Scholarship in Surveying) and Nathaniel Ovans (Nettie Dracup Memorial Scholarship) from Ferris State University; Orrin Thomas (AAGS Graduate Fellowship), Marshall Fargen (Berntsen International Scholarship in Surveying), Jacqueline Luk (Cady McDonnell Memorial Scholarship), Ryan DeWitt (NSPS Board of Governors Scholarship) and Ming Jiang (Schonstedt Scholarship in Surveying) from California State University in Fresno; Cody Schanfish (Berntsen International Scholarship in Surveying Technology) from the University of Akron; Tara Jeffers (Lowell H. and Dorothy Loving Undergraduate Scholarship) from the University of Maine; Elizabeth McCauley (NSPS Scholarship) from the University of Alaska in Anchorage; and Catherine Walp (Tri-State Surveying and Photogrammetry Kris M. Kunze Memorial Scholarship) from Metro State College of Denver.

Continuing with its dedication to the profession, POB sponsored the NSPS Surveying Excellence Award, which recognizes one individual for outstanding contributions and dedication to the surveying profession. This year, Patrick Kalen, PLS, was nominated by the Alaska Society of Professional Land Surveyors (ASPLS). Kalen served 12 years on the Alaska State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers and Land Surveyors, and was instrumental in getting state laws passed that were friendly to surveyors. Additionally, he has been actively involved in several educational efforts throughout his career, ranging from aiding the University of Alaska-Anchorage in its accreditation process to chairing the ASPLS conferences and promoting continuing education. posters gather for a picture during the second annual POB gathering.

POB Annual Gathering

POB opened its second annual gathering to include not only all the usual posters and lurkers, but also exhibitors, attendees and students. On Sunday evening, immediately following the closing of the exhibit hall, more than two hundred people attended the POB reception. Visitors mingled with the POB staff and columnists, including Wes Crawford (“Back to Basics”), Milton Denny (“The Business Side”), Lisa Isom (“Insurance Foresight”), Ron Koons (“Safety Sense”), Jeff Lucas (“Traversing the Law”), Mark Meade (“From the Ground Up”), John Palatiello (“Capitol Gains”) and Jim Reilly (“The GPS Observer”). During the evening, POB hosted a raffle and presented winners with POB-branded pint glasses and t-shirts, and a grand prize of a Magellan eTrex personal GPS navigation device.

POB Publisher Dan Murfey and Associate Editor Regan Grant present a $500 gift certificate from Allen Precision Equipment to this year’s chain throwing winner, Bill Coleman, RLS, of North Carolina.

Chain-Throwing Competition

On Monday, during the final hours of the exhibit hall, POB again hosted the popular survey chain throwing competition during the traditional Surveying Olympics. A total of 17 participants (many claiming they could hardly remember how to do it) tried their hand at throwing the chain. The competition remained fierce until the fifteenth contestant stepped up. Bill Coleman, RLS, of North Carolina coasted to first place with a record time of 31.86 seconds. POB Publisher Dan Murfey and Associate Editor Regan Grant presented Coleman with a $500 gift certificate to Allen Precision Equipment (APE). Second-place winner Richard Brantley won a P&SI surveying putter from APE (which improves green reading on the golf course) for his time of 41.48 seconds.

Various session papers presented at the 2007 conference are available Dates for the 2008 conference have not yet been announced; check back to POB Online atwww.pobonline.comfor details.