Ferris State University surveying engineering students at the entrance to Ferris State University with some of their state-of-the-art Leica surveying equipment

Recognized as one of the most coveted Bachelor of Science degree programs in surveying engineering in the United States, Michigan’s Ferris State University transforms survey recruits into some of the most respected and diverse professional surveyors and engineers in the nation. What is the school’s key to success? Simply speaking, lessons of traditional practice paired with a professional staff of distinguished faculty with highly technical knowledge. The goal: to mold students with the skills required for success anywhere in the country and beyond.

A Solid Foundation

The surveying engineering program at FSU celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007. Although the brick and mortar of the program’s buildings has changed and the technology has advanced, the basic foundation of solid education has not. With a blend of traditional studies on topics including public lands, land boundaries and legal education complemented by sophisticated surveying equipment, Ferris students work diligently to mix theoretical knowledge with practical, high-technology application to achieve solid survey knowledge with productive results.

Lab sssistant, Ms. Jamie Swartz , freshman Chris Schafer, freshman Caleb Raterink  and professor Carl Shangraw perform peg tests with the Leica DNA 10 digital level.

Winning Combinations

The FSU surveying engineering program is a continually developing initiative based on a well-oiled machine of advisors consisting of faculty, an advisory committee and professionals active in the surveying community. “We at Ferris State University take particular pride in our ability to modify and fine-tune our program to keep it on the cutting-edge [of] technology, legal aspects and viable trends in the surveying and engineering climate,” says Professor Sayed Hashimi, PS, the program’s department chair. “With the aid of our valued advisory committee and the continual contact with our alumni, we continually monitor the climate of the ever-changing surveying engineering profession to ensure that Ferris State University surveying students are always ahead of the curve.”
To ensure that the program is on the right track, the Surveying Advisory Committee meets twice a year to review the specifics of the program and forwards any recommendations for additions or updates to the faculty and Dean’s office to adjust the program accordingly.
The surveying engineering program at Ferris State University is the largest accredited program in the United States according to the guidelines of the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The program produces an average of 20 graduates a year. Upon graduation and with practical experience, a graduate can write the NCEES Principles and Practice of Surveying exam or NCEES Fundamentals of Surveying Exam.
Relationships have long been recognized as a key to the success of any college program. The surveying engineering program at Ferris State University benefits from an excellent relationship with the dean of the College of Technology who sees to it that the program is well-managed and has the funding and support to maintain its excellent status among the nation’s surveying programs. But, the relationship with the administration at Ferris does not end with the dean. “We recognize the importance of our Surveying Engineering program and the respect it enjoys in Michigan and across the country,” says David Eisler, president of Ferris State University. “With the assistance of alumni and friends of the program, we strive to provide them with the resources to uphold their status as one of the best programs in the nation. We are very proud of the extraordinary high quality of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. Their combined efforts and high expectations enable us to develop top quality graduates. [The program] is truly one of our signature programs of which we are extremely proud.” He adds, “With their learned skills and knowledge, they become leaders in the profession helping to build a stronger and better-surveyed America.”

Ferris freshmans Stephen Ganghi, Ricky Roosien and Travis Wilson orientate a Leica Robotic Total Station for field data collection operations.

Technological Support

To keep the most-current surveying equipment available to FSU students, a special bond has been made over the years between the university and manufacturer Leica Geosystems Inc. “It cannot be emphasized how important the relationship is between Leica Geosystems and Ferris State University,” says student Matthew Paloian, a senior in the program. “Through Leica Geosystems, the students have access to state-of-the-art surveying equipment and an array of software. In addition, Leica Geosystems provides the technical support on campus for all of the students to maximize their knowledge of the new technology. The valued assistance of Leica Geosystems has most certainly been critical in developing the skills necessary to be knowledgeable and productive in the ever-developing profession of surveying engineering.”
The ability to work with the same instrumentation that professional surveying companies use in commercial practice gives the students of Ferris an additional edge. Being completely at ease with the state-of-the-art surveying equipment enables Ferris students and graduates to be extremely productive the minute they hit the field.

Real-World Experience

Ferris State University graduates will attest that the second-to-none education that Ferris State University provides its students truly comes to fruition when coupled with practical diverse real-world experience “From the end of their freshman year, we highly and adamantly encourage our students to find gainful employ[ment] with professional surveying engineering companies in Michigan and elsewhere,” says professor Carl Shangraw, PS. “Many of the best professional surveying engineering companies are managed and owned by Ferris State graduates, [so] it only stands to reason that these companies would reach out to current students and provide them with the same solid real-world experience that they acquired in our hallowed halls.
“Our ultimate goal in educating our fine young surveyors is to provide them with tools that are moldable over time and space allowing them to be current and on the cutting-edge of industry knowledge but most importantly to always act and perform in the highest level of professionalism.”
In addition to having the opportunity to gain employment immediately after graduation, the FSU program offers summer employment. “It has been both my privilege and pleasure to have the opportunity to employ Ferris State University graduates and undergraduates,” says Peter Brands PLS, CFS, principle of Pacific Surveying and Engineering (PSE) in Bellingham, WA. “PSE currently employs six graduates and two interns from Ferris State University and has employed several others as summer interns. In addition to the excellent education these fine young surveyors have obtained at Ferris, there is something extraordinary about the work ethic [they] demonstrate.”

Mr. Andrew Semenchuk, P.S., director of the Michigan Spatial Reference Network and 1996 Ferris surveying engineering graduate at the controls of the MSRN “Spider Net” Operations Center.

On Track for Success

Ferris State University graduates operate across the United States and the world performing high-precision surveys, managing survey companies and working in the field in every other capacity required to perform the art, science and technology of surveying engineering. Andrew Semenchuk, PS, has advanced in the Michigan state government to become the administrator of the nations largest reference station network, the Michigan Spatial Reference Network (MSRN). “It was a definite career advantage to have had the opportunity to attend the Ferris State University surveying engineering program,” Semenchuk says.
“Having been given a solid background in conventional surveying as well as applied access to the necessary computer science associated with surveying, I had the necessary skills to both develop and administer the Michigan Spatial Reference Network, which now consists of 85 operational CORS. Ferris State University does an excellent job in providing the background necessary to work in the highly technical world of surveying engineering. The skills taught to the Ferris students make them a valuable asset to the Michigan Department of Transportation for our summer co-op program, which hires many students for field surveying operations. Graduates from the Ferris State University program are also sought out for permanent employment.”

Maitland in control of a Leica TCRP1205 Reflectorless Total Station prior to graduation in December of 2007.

The demand for the skill set I gained at Ferris State University led to numerous employment options. In addition to what I learned in the classroom and in the surveying labs, I’ve also learned that the surveying engineering program is a winning combination. Through due diligence, continual adaptation, advanced technology, as well as cooperation from private sector and government agencies, Ferris has kept its surveying engineering program effectively sound. With the continual turnout of excellent graduates from FSU, the surveying profession is guaranteed well into the future.