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Center brings high-tech mapping tools to Nicholls February 15, 2009

Posted by Bahadir Sahin in English, Haber (News).
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A new Nicholls State University center offers students cutting edge surveying equipment to make detailed maps of south Louisiana parishes and coastlines.

The technology, which includes the use of remote-control surveying aircraft, aims to help find fixes for coastal erosion, speed hurricane evacuation, improve national security and infrastructure development.

“This is as high-tech as it gets right now,” said Terry Dantin, head of Nicholls’ Applied Science Department, of the university’s geomatics program, which is now housed in the recently unveiled Geospatial Technology Center at the Ellender Library on campus. Founded in 2003, the program teaches electronic surveying skills.

The geomatics program began nearly six years ago with just two students. Within a year, it had received more than $100,000 in donations to its endowment. By spring 2005, more than 30 students were enrolled. In 2007, the program produced its first two graduates.

More than 50 students are enrolled today, and four are expected to graduate in May. Students are currently working on a Lafourche Parish road database, and the center recently gained access to LONI, the high-speed computer network that links universities throughout the state.

Administrators said even bigger plans are on the horizon.

Assistant Professor Balaji Ramachandran said he hopes to develop a graduate program. He is also seeking to combine Geographic Informational Systems — high-tech maps — from across the state into a single database at the center.

“Each parish has its own GIS department, but that data ends at the parish line,” Ramachandran said. “We’re looking to merge that.”

At last week’s opening ceremony, the geomatics program received two new donations.

The Louisiana Society of Professional Surveyors, a supporter of the program since its founding, donated $40,000. The Contractors Educational Trust Fund donated $25,000.

For details on the geomatics program, call 448-4692 or log onto http://www.nicholls.edu/doas/degree-programs/geomatics/.

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