Attracting Students to 3D Laser Scanning

In this week’s LiDAR News Chris Zmijewski has written an article entitled, “Career Paths” that I want to call your attention to. Chris had a colleague do some informal research to identify educational opportunities involving 3D laser scanning and LiDAR. The results were not encouraging.

With the exception of the outstanding Geomatics program at Oregon State University and a few others there are not a lot of options for students that might be attracted to 3D laser scanning or to survey engineering for that matter.

In general, the surveying profession is aging with a large percentage of people approaching retirement age. I think it is fair to say that formal educational opportunities are very limited, but some might argue that the demand is not there. To a certain extent it’s the classic “chicken and egg” scenario.

I wonder if some type of grass roots mentoring program, that perhaps focused on high school students might be worth discussing. I am sure the low math and science scores here in the U.S. is a contributing factor.

Thanks to Chris for speaking up about this issue. Hopefully it is just the beginning.

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6 Responses to Attracting Students to 3D Laser Scanning

  1. Chris Crosby says:

    The group that runs the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM) at U. Houston has a new and growing graduate program in Geosensing Systems Engineering and Science (GSES – that has a large emphasis on laser scanning.

    Also worth noting that thanks to the efforts of NCALM, OpenTopography, and UNAVCO, airborne and terrestrial laser scanning instruments and data have become considerably more accessible to earth science students. There is a new generation of graduate students for whom lidar is a fundamental tool in their toolkit.

  2. conor says:

    This isn’t exclusively for laser scanning, but the Department of Spatial Information Sciences (DSIS) at DIT Bolton Street, Ireland put together an excellent media presentation for just this purpose. heres a youtube link and a FIG paper on it.

  3. Joe Evans says:

    In a roundabout way, we have been attracting more and more students to not only 3D laser scanning and LiDAR, but to a the whole suite of spatial technologies. We’re archaeologists by training, but our classes (such as ‘Technology in Heritage Resources’ and ‘Museum Visualization’) are attracting more and more students. I think that while we are not training and teaching surveyors, per se, we are getting young scientists interested in and experience on these technologies, which is a critical first step. I’ve found that a secret of success in this area lay in the application of these technologies to different researches. In Florida, we offer a number of certificate programs (with Geomatics among them) and we’ve found that more and more anthropology or archaeology students are supplementing their primary training with these courses.


  4. The University of South Florida’s Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies (AIST) has taught classes and training workshops on multiple types of laser scanning for years. Recently, they have partnered with the new USF Advanced Visualization Center to bring teaching in 3D to the classroom. Students can now experience the power and potential of this rapidly expanding field, and prepare for their future by working with multiple types of 3D hardware and software to plan, conduct, and present their own research projects.

    Along with various categories of laser scanners, AIST incorporates the use aerial LiDAR, GIS, advanced photographic and photogrammetric techniques, surface and sub-surface 3D remote sensing technologies. In this manner, they can support a more complete and holistic approach to interdisciplinary research designed to provide solutions to real-world problems globally.

  5. Rob McMillan says:

    California State University Fresno’s Geomatics Engineering program has 2 Laser Scanners and a new 3D mapping lab. I have not had the opportunity to tour the facility, but I understand it is “state of the art.”

  6. I would also like to add that next year, I will be teaching a 3D Forensic Reconstruction course as part of the Forensic Sciences Program at the University of Toronto. This course will certainly have a laser scanning and terrestrial photogrammetry component. I am hoping this should give students a first hand look at capturing data in 3D.

    I think the important point here is to look outside of the traditional roles where Lidar and 3D scanning have been used and look towards all the new growth areas and potential markets.

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