University of New BrunswickGeodesy and Geomatics Engineering

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Some History ...

In 1959, on a train bound for Ottawa, Canada, Willis Roberts (then Director of Surveys for New Brunswick), Bill Hilborn (then professor of photogrammetry in the Faculty of Forestry), Ira Beattie (then Head, Civil Engineering Department), and Gottfried Konecny (then Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering), had a dream of a surveying engineering department at UNB. In 1960, their dream was brought to fruition with the help of Jim Dineen (then Dean of Engineering), Colin B. McKay (then President of UNB), and Archie McLaughlin (then a surveyor with the New Brunswick Lands Branch).

Surveying has been taught at UNB since the fall of 1840 when William Brydone Jack, Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at what was then King's College (founded in 1785), gave lectures in surveying as part of the mathematics curriculum. In the same year that UNB was created (1859), a special three-term undergraduate course in civil engineering and surveying was initiated. The first diploma in this special course was awarded to Henry George Clopper Ketchum in June 1862. Brydone Jack (UNB President 1861-1885), was appointed to the Board of Examiners in 1874 for the examination of candidates for admission to practice land surveying in New Brunswick. In 1889, a Chair of Civil Engineering and Surveying was established, and in 1901, the first engineering building was opened. Surveying continued under the wing of civil engineering until that eventful train trip to Ottawa in 1959. Between 1960, when the surveying engineering program began as a distinct entity, and 2001, 701 Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.Sc.E.(Geomatics Engineering)), 111 Master of Engineering (M.Eng.), 175 Master of Science in Engineering (M.Sc.E.), and 64 Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees have been conferred on students from over 60 countries.

Since 1960, the meaning of "surveying engineering" has undergone a radical change. Technological advances and emerging knowledge-based industries have changed the profession. Geodesy, ocean mapping, geographic information systems, precision engineering and mining surveys, satellite positioning, hydrographic surveying, and remote sensing are just some of the activities that have broadened the scope of both teaching and research in the Department. Keeping with the times and moving into the future, the Department changed its name to Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering on 1 January 1994 to better reflect the interdisciplinary spectrum of its activities.

Surveying engineering faculty must be among the most widely travelled in any field. In the last 40 years, every continent except Antarctica has been visited by most of the academics either in their capacity as educators or as researchers - and even Antarctica has been visited by one of their graduate students. The first major research projects, though, were on the North American continent:

In the 1990s, the trend in the Department was to merge researchers, educators, and resources into teams to maximize the ability to utilize and disseminate the knowledge gained from the incredible technological advances that have occurred. These groups are: The most recent research projects can be found under Research.

The past 40 years of Geomatics at UNB have encompassed numerous changes. From an enrolment of 37 B.Sc.E. and 10 diploma students in 1965, the undergraduate student enrolment currently stands at 101. The graduate student complement of 10 in 1965 has increased steadily, and there are now 55 students enrolled in the M.Eng., M.Sc.E., and Ph.D. graduate programs. From six academic staff, one secretary, and a quarter of a technician in 1965, the head count in the fall of 2001 was 9 full-time faculty, 5 Professors Emeriti, one senior research associate, four research associates, and 8 technical, scientific, and administrative staff members, one Hydrographer-in-Residence, and one Executive-in-Residence. From locating and mapping glaciers in the Arctic in 1963, the Department now locates, measures, maps, and displays just about anything.

... and Some Ancient History
(collated by Richard B. Langley)

In preparation for the 150th anniversary of engineering at UNB, which took place in 2004, Richard Langley put together the highlights of surveying at UNB. We offer this chronology for your edification.

1785 December 13 Memorialists petitioned Governor Thomas Carleton for a charter to establish an "academy or school of liberal arts and sciences."
1796 Plans for an observatory are mentioned.
1800 February 12 Charter for the College of New Brunswick granted.
1819 William Brydone Jack born.
1822 April First "college classes" held.
1826 Cornerstone of Old Arts Building (now called Sir Howard Douglas Hall) laid by Lt. Gov. Sir Howard Douglas.
1827 December Royal charter for King's College granted
1828 February 21 First (and last) three graduates of the College of New Brunswick.
1829 January 1 King's College and the Old Arts Building officially opened.
1837 The Chair of Chemistry and Natural Science and the Chair of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy established.
1840 September 26 William Brydone Jack formally appointed "Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy" at King's college. Gave lectures in surveying as part of the mathematics curriculum.
1851 Observatory built.
1851 July Brydone Jack applied for (but did not obtain) professorship of natural philosophy at the University of Toronto.
1853 December 10 Course in civil engineering (much of which was surveying) announced in the press.
1854 February 15 First lecture in civil engineering course given by McMahon Cregan.
1855 Longitude measurements between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Fredericton.
1859 April 13 Act creating a secular, provincial University of New Brunswick passed.
1859 Calendar announced a three-term "special undergraduate course in Civil Engineering and Surveying." Students successfully completing this course received a diploma.
1860 Charter for the University of New Brunswick granted.
1861 Brydone Jack becomes President of the University of New Brunswick.
1862 June 5 First diploma in the special undergraduate course awarded to Henry George Clopper Ketchum.
1868/69 Special class in engineering and surveying formed.
1870 Announcement of a science course in the Calendar for 1870/71.
1874 July 27 Brydone Jack appointed to the Board of Examiners for the examination of candidates for admission to practice as land surveyors in New Brunswick.
1874 Brydone Jack became involved in testing surveyors' compasses and chains. He began a series of magnetic measurements.
1885 Brydone Jack retired from UNB.
1886 November 23 Brydone Jack died.
1889 August 15 Chair of civil engineering and surveying and chair of experimental science were established.
1900 May Foundation stone for the engineering building laid.
1901 Engineering building completed and opened.