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Surveying Tech Company Shows Kids the Ropes (and Drones!)

Surveying Tech Company Shows Kids the Ropes (and Drones!)

Teens from our popular Land Surveying and Mapping with Technology camp were treated to a visit from some surveying tech gurus and engineers from St. Louis mid-June. And there were drones involved.

Todd Horton, instructor of the camp and program manager for Parkland’s Construction Management Programs, arranged to have Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. teach campers in the classroom and provide hands-on training outdoors on a perfect summer day near the gymnasium.

“We need to raise awareness in land surveying, and these guys are great at it,” he said.”

“These guys” were Derek Twente, Andrew Joost, and Josh Hoffmann, who taught the teens about telegrammetry and LiDAR imaging—cutting-edge technologies in the field of surveying and mapping.

“We work with GIS, surveying crews, civil engineers, and many, many more groups of people,” said Joost, a geospatial data manager who has worked in the field ten years. “There are many people involved.”

After spending some time in the classroom, the campers headed outside and received some hands-on instruction with a drone. Hoffmann, a geospatial construction services manager, held a captive audience as he put his drone on autopilot. It lifted into the air as he explained to students that the drone would take a series of 31 pictures at 250 feet, moving in a grid-like pattern. The resulting images would provide ortho-image data and plot points.

“It’s amazing technology,” he said. “When I show these kids the detail afterward, they’re going to be blown away.”

The trip up from St. Louis was an investment for these engineers. “Most kids out there don’t really know anything about what they can do in this field,” said Twente, who is also the president-elect of the Illinois Professional Land Surveyor’s Association. “I know of only one other camp in Illinois that does this.” He was referring to Todd Horton’s intensive surveying and mapping camp, which puts equipment in the hands of teens and shows them a potential future in surveying. The job market is booming, but there is a lack of awareness of what the industry entails and how to get in it.

With the advent of new technologies, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) and the increased capabilities of cameras, imagery, and software, surveying has exploded into new methods of discovery and accessibility. The equipment can be fun, the work takes place indoors and outdoors, and the pay can be pretty good. The catch?

“Kids just don’t know about this stuff,” Horton said.

Except for these kids. They’re right in the middle of the fun, thanks to Horton and the engineers from Thoutvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. They’ve gotten a leg-up on their peers when it comes to future job opportunities, and they got to do it in a fun summer camp.

Did your teens miss the camp? No problem! There are other ways to get involved. Here are some other opportunities:

  • For internships and inquiries, contact Derek Twente, Geospatial Services Manager, at 618/624-4488, or email dtwente@twm-inc.com.
  • For UAS/Drone classes, FAA licenses, and using mapping software, contact Parkland College Business Training & Community Education, at 217/351-2235, or register online at www.parkland.edu/btceRegister

For more information on surveying and mapping, future camps, and similar opportunities, email Todd Horton at thorton@parkland.edu.

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