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Surveying Engineering Student Team Wins National Society of Professional Surveyors Competition

PhotoA team of Ferris State University Surveying Engineering students won a competition sponsored by the Young Surveyors Network, part of the National Society of Professional Surveyors Spring Business Meeting held in Washington, D.C., Thursday, March 30 and Friday, April 1. (First row) Nick Belka, of Hopkins; Michelle Abramson, of Iron Mountain; and Zachary Bemben of Grand Rapids; (Back) Dylan Dankenbring, of Peck; and John Vary, of Plymouth, made up Ferris’ first-place team.

A team of Ferris State University Surveying Engineering students rolled past the field to earn first-place honors in the 21st annual National Society of Professional Surveyors student competition on Thursday, March 30, and Friday, April 1.

Adjunct instructor of Surveying Engineering Bob Burtch, a professor emeritus, was the team’s advisor and said this was a successful return. Ferris regularly sent teams to take part in the earliest years of the competition, Burtch noted.

“The exercises our students faced were developed by the Young Surveyors Network, within the National Society,” he said. “Our team showed great initiative that first day by choosing to secure bicycles for a surveying monument scavenger hunt. They felt this approach would yield better results than the Metro light rail system and then walking to the desired monument. It turned out they made an excellent choice.”

Burtch said the students spent eight hours pedaling to their destinations in Washington, D.C. and could locate all the available markers by traveling approximately 25 miles point-to-point, which allowed them to lead the field of 12 teams after the first day.

“On day two, our team did a great job of utilizing an unfamiliar instrument, the theodolite,” Burtch said. “They were asked to triangulate to an unknown control point. They used the top of the Washington Monument and a monument near the World War II Memorial to make their determination. The students also were able to see the Washington Monument offset point located in proximity to the Washington Monument. This control point is only accessible through the U.S. Park Service and is located beneath a secured manhole near the monument.”

According to Burtch, the team also excelled in the last two phases of the competition.

“They were able to develop accurate results in a three-wire leveling exercise, then completed a traverse, using a compass and chain, which was the method used in land surveys in the 1800s,” Burtch said. “Our team had great preparation, having practiced with some of the equipment. The accuracy of the student’s work solidified their lead in the competition.”

Ferris’ winning team included Michelle Abramson, of Iron Mountain; Nicholas Belka, of Hopkins; Zachary Bemben, of Grand Rapids; Dylan Dankenbring, of Peck; and John Vary, of Plymouth.