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INTRODUCTION: The 2019 NSPS Student Competition will be held in conjunction with the Spring meetings of the National Society of Professional Surveyors in Arlington Virginia April 9th thru April 11th, 2019. It is being held at the Hilton Arlington, 950 N Stafford St, Arlington, VA. The competition will begin prior to the actual start of the conference and overlap the NSPS meeting by two days. These meetings are not part of a conference with an exhibit hall or professional development seminars, however representatives from every state and every facet of the broad surveying and geomatics profession will be present, with ample opportunities for networking.  We have an extra-large block of rooms reserved to accommodate the student competition at $219/night. You can contact the hotel directly at 703-528-6000 or use the Hilton reservation line at 800-445-8667.  The Group name is “National Society of Professional Surveyors” and the Group Code is “NSP”.


The Presentations are scheduled for all day Wednesday April 10th and there will be an Evening Reception with the Awards Presentation on Thursday April 11th.  If there is enough interest, a day trip to Mount Vernon will be set up for Thursday April 11th.  There may be an additional fee for such an excursion.


There will be two separate judging divisions, one for students matriculated into Associates degree programs and one for students matriculated into Baccalaureate degree problems. 


TEAM REGISTRATION: (THIS IS DIFFERENT FOR 2019!) To facilitate communications, all teams wishing to participate in the 2019 NSPS Student Competition must submit the below Registration Form along with the non-refundable team entry fee of $200 to the Executive Director of NSPS, 5119 Pegasus Court, Suite Q Frederick, MD 21704, (or faxed to 240-439-4952), no later than Friday, November 2, 2018.  Those wishing to pay by Credit Card can do so by going to the NSPS eStore (https://www.nsps.us.com/store/ViewProduct.aspx?id=10361577) and selecting the item “2019 Student Competition”.  Payment must be received by the November 2, 2018 deadline as well as the form.


Note:  In the past the registration process was a two-step process requiring “Pre-notification” and a “Final Notification”.  This has been simplified to a single step for 2019.  It is understood that team members may need to be added or swapped in or out as the competition approaches.  Teams will be asked to provide an updated and final registration form along with their Technical Report/Binder submission. NSPS may not be able to accommodate additional shirts or changes in shirt sizes from those indicated on the original Registration form.


Please direct any questions to the competition coordinator, Mr. Vannozzi as noted below:


Primary Contact via email: vannozzia@wit.edu


A. Richard Vannozzi, MS, PLS, Asst. Professor

Department of Civil Engineering and Technology

Wentworth Institute of Technology

550 Huntington Avenue

Boston, MA  02115


Personal Cell: 617-429-7036





The topic for the 2019 competition is “Utilizing remotely sensed data in a modern surveying practice”. and consists of a Project, Technical Report/Project Binder (containing the Project documentation), Poster and Oral Presentation.   These four elements shall be related as a cohesive applied, professional, practice based, scientific/research project.


The Project should be centered on the preparation of a client ready map/plan/model that utilizes remotely sensed data. The participants will need to submit a Technical Report detailing their work, as further described below.  Participants will also need to prepare a Project Binder that includes copies of all relevant documents used in the preparation of the map/plan/model. The final Poster will need to be brought to the conference. The conference Oral Presentation should be prepared as if the participants are briefing their client (The Judges) on the results of their work as described below.


The purpose of the above approach is to provide the students with the opportunity to develop and refine their skill in communicating their thoughts, reasoning and findings in a professional setting.  The ability to present explain and, at times, defend the rationale behind a survey is a critical skill for professional surveyors.


It is understood that not all students and schools have the same resources in the subject area.  Judging will NOT be based on which school has the flashiest or most dramatic project, but rather judging will be based on how clearly a team articulates its goals, how well it achieves those goals, how thorough is their understanding of what they set out to learn, and how well they present what they did and what they learned. Student teams are encouraged to set reasonable goals from the outset.


In a sentence:  Say what you are going to do; do it; and report on what you did.


Student teams should develop a project that demonstrates the use of remotely sensed information to supplement, enhance, or replace the collection of terrestrial data on traditional mapping projects or in creating mapping products for new or emerging applications.  This topic was chosen based on student interest in a competition theme that allowed for the application of technologies such as laser scanners, airborne lidar, UAV’s/drones (to acquired imagery and or other remotely sensed data, etc.).  It was also felt that there would be ample opportunities for students to utilize GIS software, modeling software and network adjustment and error analysis software as part of a project if they wished.  Properly describing and quantifying the errors associated with the mapping/model should form a significant component of the project.


Because this is a student project and is for academic pursuits only, under no circumstances shall any measurement data, research, calculations or mapping created as part of this project be used for any non-academic purpose, even if work is completed under the supervision of a licensed land surveyor.


Technical Report/Binder: (40 points)


Each team will provide one hard copy of their binder as well as one digital copy, as a single PDF on DVD or Flash Drive. 


The binder will include, a Technical Report of not more than 20 pages (including all figures and tables, but exclusive of Title Page, Abstract, Literature Citations) that describes the project’s purpose, process, and results.  The standards for the Technical Report shall be those for manuscript submission to the Surveying and Land Information Science Journal (http://www.salis-journal.org/for-authors/submission-guidelines/).  The Technical Report submitted shall be double spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman Font, 1” margins all around. The Binder must be named as follows: yourschoolabbreviation_Binder_NSPS_2019.PDF.


The Binder shall include, at a minimum, the final up-to-date registration form, supporting sections for the safety plan, correspondence, field notes, research, calculations, analysis, results and time accounting.  There should be a Table of Contents and a Title Page. Remember that properly describing and quantifying the errors associated with the mapping/model should form a significant component of the project.


Email submissions will not be accepted. Binder and Digital Submissions (DVD or Flash Drive) must be received at the office of the Executive Director of NSPS (5119 Pegasus Court, Suite Q

Frederick, MD 21704) no later than 5:00 pm EST on Friday, March 15, 2019.


There will be no exceptions to this deadline. It is the responsibility of the team to verify receipt of their submission by NSPS. Students should use such methods as certified mail, return receipt requested or carrier tracking numbers, and then the team should follow up with a phone call to NSPS HQ once delivery is confirmed by the carrier to double check.



Poster: (30 points)


Each participating team shall prepare one poster with information derived from the project. The dimensions of the poster shall be a minimum size of 24 inches by 36 inches to a maximum size of 36 inches by 42 inches. The contents shall include the school name, team members, sponsor acknowledgements (if any), and any material necessary to provide a concise and complete visual summary of the chosen subject. The posters will be displayed on the day of the oral presentations at the NSPS conference. Commercial printing and laminating are permitted (but not required), but all layout and graphics must be the work of the students.  Two copies must be submitted, and they will be retained by NSPS.  Posters shall be prepared prior to arrival at the conference venue and shall be formatted as one would format a scientific conference poster.


Oral Presentation: (30 points)


The presentation is to be a coordinated group effort. Teams will be provided with a podium, LCD projector and screen.  For preliminary planning purposes, teams should plan on a 30-minute presentation which includes 5 minutes of questions from the judges and 5 minutes of questions from the audience. Assume your audience is your client, and this is a professional level briefing of your results.




Teams shall consist of not less than two (2) and not more than six (6) members.  Team members shall be taking classes in either, or both, the Fall 2018 or Spring 2018 semesters (or equivalent quarters in schools utilizing the quarter system) and be matriculated undergraduate students in either or both of those semesters.  All work on the project shall be completed by the students on the team, though other matriculated students may assist in field surveying tasks. Students can be full or part-time and though most are in surveying related majors, multi-disciplinary teams included a limited number of students from other majors may be included on a team if they have a subject matter interest that is reflected in the competition.  For example, drones or scanning equipment/expertise can often be found in other departments such as, computer/electrical engineering, construction management, architecture or archeology.




Teams must also have a faculty advisor who must accompany the team to the competition.  The role of the advisor is to be a resource for students by pointing them toward resources that might help them answer their own questions and to help with travel logistics, trespass and permission to enter issues, safety, and administrative processes.  The NSPS student competition is a student activity and is designed for students to have the opportunity to organize, schedule, lead and complete the project on their own.  Sometimes this means that student projects are not as “perfect” or “polished” as faculty, administrators or practitioners may envision.  An advisor’s role is to support and not participate or direct student efforts.






Safety considerations for the team members should be first and foremost.  During field work, team members are expected to follow all safety guidelines in place at their respective schools and such other requirements outlined in a safety plan and as approved by their faculty advisor(s).  A digital copy of the safety plan shall be provided within the “Binder” but also as a stand-alone PDF.  Though the technical content of the Safety Plan will not be judged as part of the competition, points will be deducted from teams where no safety plan is provided.  The stand-alone copy of the safety plan shall be in a single PDF named in a similar manner as the paper: yourschoolabbreviation_Safety_NSPS_2019.PDF.


In the past, some schools have found that special topics classes and independent studies have provided a useful structure for student learning in the project area and for faculty/student interaction.


Students, as always, are strongly encouraged to contact practicing professionals with expertise in the competition topic for advice and as a resource for equipment, training, data, etc.


The focus of the competition and judging will be how well students plan, organize, accomplish, and present a project of their choosing.



Detailed judging rubrics, which will be used by the judges for the paper, poster and oral presentation portions of the competition will be provided on or before October 19, 2018.


All judging rubrics will be returned to teams at the time of the award presentation, at which time the decisions of the judges will be deemed final.






1.       Safety considerations for the team members should be first and foremost.  During field work, team members are expected to follow all safety guidelines in place at their respective schools and such other requirements outlined in their safety plan and as approved by their faculty advisor(s).


2.       For projects that are chosen in industrial or construction settings, special care should be taken to make sure that safety plans address the specific hazards associated with such situations.


3.       Students shall secure written permission from the land owner of any property they must enter for the purposes of this student project unless students are able to identify a study area on property of their institution or publicly owned and accessible lands.


4.       Students shall not trespass on any properties, even in those states where licensed land surveyors enjoy the benefits of a “Right of Entry Law”. Advisors shall work closely with their teams on this aspect of the competition to make sure the rights of all land owners are respected at all times.


5.       Project site should be chosen so as NOT to border on or include active rail lines (including light rail), nor to require students to enter on any active rail lines for measurement purposes even if they believe they have proper training, permits and equipment.


6.       Under no circumstances shall students enter any confined space, even if they believe they have proper confined space training, permits and equipment.


7.       Students shall refrain from using spray paint or excessive flagging.


8.       For those schools that may not have remote sensing equipment of their own, they should investigate partnering with industry organizations in their area to aid in the acquisition of project specific data. 


9.       Projects that do not include the acquisition of project specific data are equally acceptable and should focus on some unique application, analysis or comparison of data sets acquired from third parties.


10.   If the project includes the acquisition of data from UAV’s/drones, all FAA regulations must be followed in the acquisition of the data.  This may mean that students can plan the flight(s), set out control and post-process data, while the actual piloting of the drone must be done by others holding the proper training and credentials.




Past Winners

10th Annual Competition (2011)

11th Annual Competition (2012)

12th Annual Competition (2013)

13th Annual Competition (2014)

14th Annual Competition (2015)

15th Annual Competition(2016)

16th Annual Competition (2017)

17th Annual Competition (2018)

NSPS strives to establish and further common interests, objectives, and political effort that would help bind the surveying profession into a unified body in the United States.

Governance: The National Society of Professional Surveyors Inc. is governed by a Board of Directors. The NSPS Board of Directors meets twice per year.   NSPS has working agreements with state surveying organizations which are represented on the NSPS Board of Directors, and with the NSPS Foundation, Inc. 

Contact Us

5119 Pegasus Court
Suite Q
Frederick, MD 21704
Phone: 240-439-4615
Fax: 240-439-4952

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