What is Surveying Engineering?

Surveying is known to be the oldest profession in the world having traced its roots back to great civilizations of biblical or ancient times, such as the Babylonians, Greeks, Egyptians, and the Chaldeans where surveyors were noblemen. These noblemen played an important role in the economic framework of their societies and were well respected. Many of our early leaders and explorers were famous surveyors such as James Cook, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

Today, Surveying Engineers play a vital role in developing societies. Their primary role is to determine the position of natural and man-made objects on the earth's surface, and record it for future planning purposes; to set and reset boundaries both within the country and internationally. Surveying is the general term, which covers a myriad of disciplines, such as Geodesy, Photogrammetry, Cartography, GIS, Digital Mapping, Cadastral Surveying, etc.

Surveying Engineers or Surveyors collect, analyze, and manage the global spatial infrastructure. They design, develop, and operate systems for collecting and analyzing spatial information about the land, the oceans, natural resources, and man-made features. They use sophisticated equipment such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), electronic theodolites, levels, aerial photographs, satellite imagery for gathering, analyzing, and using information about the earth.  Modern Surveying topics include digital mapping, geodesy, photogrammetry, remote sensing, as well as more traditional surveying involving property surveys. Since our societies are becoming more complex, information with a spatial position associated with it are of vital importance and are critical to decision-making, both from a personal and a business perspective, and for different levels of government.

Surveying Engineers can answer many questions like: do you know where your property boundaries are? Have you ever wondered how maps are created? How does GPS work? What is the shape and size of the earth? How can the satellite imagery be interpreted to monitor the environment etc.?  Surveying Engineers or Surveyors perform different types of work such as measure land, air space, and water areas. They describe where a certain area of land is. They compute, portray and explain what it looks like, and how much is there. They put these facts in deeds, leases, and other legal documents.

Employers of Surveying Engineers include federal government agencies such as U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey as well as city, state, or county highway departments; and for large and small engineering and surveying firms. According to the U.S. Department of Labor jobs in this discipline are expected to grow by 25% in the next ten years.

Watch Our Surveying Engineering Videos:
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- Students Win National Competition
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- Academic Overview
Video 3 (YouTube) - Leica Geosystems

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About Surveying Engineering

  • The largest undergraduate surveying engineering program in the Midwest and one of the largest in the U.S. The B.S. in Surveying Engineering is approved and recognized by the Michigan State Board of Licensing for Professional Surveyors.
  • Accredited (B.S. Surveying Engineering) by The Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (www.abet.org).
  • The Surveying Engineering Department has educated surveyors for the State of Michigan and the nation for more than forty years.
  • Excellent job opportunities in the field or in the office.
  • Diverse employment opportunities with large and small private surveying and mapping firms; federal, state and local governmental agencies nationwide.
  • Comprehensive integrated curriculum including courses in field surveying, survey law, GPS, GIS, photogrammetry, geodesy, cartography, remote sensing, hydrology & hydraulics, soil mechanics, and other related courses.
  • Integrated field surveying component that links surveying theory to field applications .
  • State-of-the-art surveying equipment including the "Field To Finish" computerized systems, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, and extensive mapping equipment.
  • Active student organizations - The Burt and Mullet Student Chapter of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM), and the Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors, (MSPS); Mary Feindt Chapter Lambda Sigma (national surveying honor society).
  • Over $20,000 in annual scholarships available for students.
  • Admission requirements: High school diploma, prefer students with math and science aptitudes.
  • Transfer options from other two and four year institutions (particularly to Surveying Engineering). Nearly 50% of students are transfers from other colleges and universities.