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Posted October 1, 2012

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Surveying Project Teaches Valley, Cibola Students Marketable Skills

The innovative program is sponsored by the APS Education Foundation in partnership with New Mexico Professional Surveyors Educational Foundation and Holman’s, Inc.

From a distance, it looked like 30 Valley High students surveying and mapping their baseball field.

Up close, they were plotting a career plan -- and maybe, a future.

Students at Valley and Cibola have participated this fall in an innovative program that gives them hands-on experience in the field of surveying and mapping, thanks to a program funded by the New Mexico Professional Surveyors Educational Foundation and Holman’s, Inc., in partnership with the APS Education Foundation.

“Our hope is twofold,” said Tony Trujillo of Holman’s, who was the driving force behind the project. “One, we want to introduce students to new career paths in a technical field and encourage them to remain in school. Two, we want to provide information on a new CNM Surveying and Mapping program with a connection to a New Mexico State University surveying engineering degree.”

Trujillo enlisted help from friends like Ron Forstbauer and his wife Terese, who own Forstbauer Surveying. Ron Forstbauer assists the computer-assisted design teachers at both Valley and Cibola in the project, with the help of equipment from Central New Mexico Community College.

“This gives kids a look at a career path that most aren’t really aware of,” Forstbauer said. “Most people don’t really get into it until their 20s or 30s and even then, they sort of stumble into it.”

Although computer-assisted design is a great entre into the world of architecture or engineering, Trujillo notes that there are 500 professional surveyors in New Mexico, with as many as 40 percent nearing retirement. “It’s an excellent opportunity for a professional career for our students,” he said.

On Wednesday, Sept. 26, Valley CAD students measured almost every area of the Vikings' baseball field, using surveying equipment and other tools, then made sketches of the field itself. That data is being transferred into computers to generate accurate maps.

Just as important, Valley High's Serri Grube said, will be a “pacing” exercise that will have some students actually stepping off the measurements of the field the old-fashioned way.

“You’re not always going to have the right equipment,” she noted.

Cibola CAD teacher Barbara Nord worked with Forstbauer on a similar effort at Cibola, which concluded a few weeks ago. 

Trujillo said he hopes the success of this project could spur an expansion to all APS computer-assisted design classes in the future.

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