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Text Book Pilot Program

Monday, November 26, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sally Palatiello
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Professional surveyor organizations from Virginia and Tennessee have launched a pilot program they hope will eventually provide textbooks for many regional surveying students and boost workforce development efforts in the surveying profession.

 Shown here, from left to right are: Front row; Philip Chipley, William Green Baron Hamby, Caleb Cox and Keagan McAfee (students at ETSU). Back row; Jared Wilson (surveying program coordinator at ETSU), Jeff Miller, Dave Ingram (secretary/treasurer of VSF), Marian Young and Jin Hong. 
In September, textbooks were presented to the four-year surveying program at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) by the Virginia Surveyors Foundation (VSF) and the Tennessee Surveying Education Foundation (TSEF). The introductory surveying textbooks are used by all class levels in the university’s surveying and mapping science program.  In addition to being a widely used and respected introductory manual for surveying students, the book provided to ETSU features the ability for students to utilize exclusive interactive online content referenced throughout the textbook.

          The two foundations shared the $2,600 cost for 20 textbooks.  Because of class scheduling, the university can use the textbooks to benefit all of the more than 80 students in the school’s surveying program. Organizers of the pilot program have expressed a desire to expand the textbook project to include all textbooks, equipment, and fees for surveying students throughout the Virginia and Tennessee region.

“Having a good set of textbooks begins the foundation for a reference collection for these students when they pursue their career,” said David Ingram, the longtime secretary/treasurer for VSF. “Certainly, this is a positive step for the students, and we hope for the profession.”

Both the current and former directors of ETSU’s surveying program called the book initiative one that has long been needed.  Professor Jared Wilson, the surveying program coordinator at ETSU, said the textbooks will greatly ease the financial burden to some students, and have an added influence of encouraging new surveyors in the profession.

Back row: Anthony Suttle, Jared Wilson, Bennie Moorman, Matt Lindvall, Jeff Miller, Dave Ingram, Marian Young, Jin Hong, Tim Lingerfelt Front row:
Philip Chipley, Baron Hamby, Caleb Cox, William Green, Keagan McAfee 

 “This is a big step forward, not only for our students here, but for the surveying profession as a whole,” said Wilson.  “We are grateful for the [textbook initiative] and look forward to our continuing relationship with the two foundations.”

According to Wilson and his predecessor, Jerry Taylor, who shepherded the school’s surveying program for 10 years, some students could incur as much as $1500 annually in textbook costs and fees.  “I would say more than half of our surveying students [at ETSU] struggle with the costs of books alone,’’ said Taylor.

A spokesman for VSF echoed Taylor and Wilson, pointing out the ETSU surveying program had recently identified textbook costs as one of the biggest immediate financial hurdles its students face.  The school’s assessment was a prime motivation for the textbook initiative, the spokesperson explained.  “We want to sustain what we have started this year,” Ingram said, “but it’s obviously not an inexpensive process.  The program will have to build up gradually.”  To that end, Ingram said the two foundations are already working on continued funding and bringing in other funding sources from professional organizations beyond the foundation.

Ingram added, “The ultimate short statement of [VSF’s mission] is to support the education of surveyors.  This falls right in line with our mission.”

Even though easing the financial burden of surveying students was a short-term objective, the initiative, and efforts to expand the program, are only part of the reasoning for launching the effort.  In fact, Taylor stated the program’s long-term effect of fostering workforce development “may even be the most important part” of the initiative.  “I think this is a way of building a sense of esprit de corps with others in the surveying profession, a way of connecting the students to working surveyors, now and in the future,” explained Taylor.  “I think this is one of the best ideas I’ve seen for surveying and education in 20 years.”

A spokesman for VSF noted that while the two foundations are looking to expand the initiative, ETSU was the logical choice for the pilot program.  ETSU is the only four-year surveying program to offer a four-year degree in surveying to Virginia residents.  The foundation and the Virginia Association of Surveyors has supported ETSU’s surveying program in a variety of ways for 35 years, including monetary scholarships for students there.  The spokesman noted there are other programs the foundation hopes to include in future textbook acquisitions, such as community colleges in Virginia and an apprenticeship surveying project in Northern Virginia.

{Submitted by J.W. Harris. He is a freelance writer living in Virginia, with several years’ experience in surveying.}