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GGE News - 2010


GGE's John McLaughlin Named Member of the Order of Canada

Professor Emeritus and President Emeritus John McLaughlin has been awarded the Order of Canada. Prof. McLaughlin was included in the list of 54 new appointments to the order announced by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, on 30 December 2010.

Prof. McLaughlin received the honour “for his contributions to cultivating innovative public policy discussions in New Brunswick and for his leadership as president of the University of New Brunswick.”

A faculty member in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering (and its forerunner, the Department of Surveying Engineering) since 1972, Prof. McLaughlin served as the University of New Brunswick's president between 2002 and 2009. Well known for public policy work in his home province, he has also been a driving force in building the North American geomatics industry and has worked extensively around the world on the development of property systems with organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

The recipients of the Order of Canada will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.

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GGE's Online GPS Data Processing Service Approaches 5,000 Submissions

Available since 2007, the online version of the GPS Analysis and Positioning Software, or GAPS, has surpassed 4,800 submissions (see plot). GAPS was developed to process the very precise carrier-phase observations from a single GPS receiver to obtain position accuracies approaching a few centimeters. The so-called precise point positioning (PPP) technique uses precise (and accurate) satellite orbit and clock data provided by the International GNSS Service.

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GGE Alumnus Helps Map First Nation Lands

Rob Lieper, a graduate of the geomatics program at UNB, has helped carry out boundary surveys for the transfer of 23 Indian reserves to the Kyuquot Checleset First Nation as part of the first land claim settlement on Vancouver Island. Rob, who works for J.E. Anderson & Associates, made good use of the knowledge and skills learned while at UNB. The UNB program, with its coverage of the full spectrum of geomatics, is unique in North America.

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UNB's Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering Publishes Its History

The definitive history of the University of New Brunswick's Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering has just been published. Titled By Any Measure: Fifty Years of Surveying and Geomatics at the University of New Brunswick, the book chronicles the developments in research and teaching in one of UNB's flagship departments over the past half-century.

It has been compiled by Wendy Wells (B.A., M.A.(UNB)), a department employee from 1970 to 2004, who is a professional historian rather than a “geomatician.” Thus the book contains nary a formula and only a smattering of references.

The book will be of interest not only to those who have been involved with the department as students and staff over the years, but also to those interested in the progress in the ideas and techniques of geomatics (including surveying, GPS, mapping, and land policy) and geodesy, the basic science of positioning, as practiced at Canada's first English-language university department specializing in this area.

The book's format consists of a timeline running along the bottom of each page with highlights and pictures reflecting the passing of the years. Above the timeline are the stories that appeared in a variety of print media over the past 50 years. At the end of the book are the stories written by the current faculty, and former faculty, students, and friends of the department that provide snippets of important events. In 272 pages, Ms. Wells has managed to mention 272 GGE-related names all highlighted in red for easy searching.

Portions of the book that could not fit into the limited number of pages can be found at the GGE website. These include the list of names mentioned in the book, the names and degrees of all our students from 1960 to 2009, the names of students who won prizes or scholarships over the years, and the titles of all the graduate students' theses and dissertations.

The book will be launched during a special gala event celebrating GGE's 50th anniversary at the Federicton Delta Hotel on Friday, October 29.

More information about the book including how to order a copy may be found here.

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Richard Langley Receives Inaugural Simply the Best Award

GGE's Prof. Richard Langley was selected as one of the first recipients of UNB's Associated Alumni Simply the Best Award. Destined to be presented annually, the awards honour nationally and internationally acclaimed members of the on-campus UNB community.

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UNB's John McLaughlin Featured in GIM International Magazine

The lead article in the September 2010 issue of GIM International, the global magazine for geomatics, is an interview with professor emeritus and president emeritus John McLaughlin. A professor in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering (and its forerunner, the Department of Surveying Engineering) since 1972, Prof. McLaughlin served as the University of New Brunswick's president between 2002 and 2009. He has been a driving force in building the North American geomatics industry and has worked extensively around the world on the development of property systems with organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

The article highlights Prof. McLaughlin's career in improving land administration and his prediction of the fourth wave of property reform driven by globalization and the growing economies of countries like China, India, and Brazil.

You can read the full interview here: http://www.gim-international.com/issues/articles/id1584-The_Property_Story__Chapter_Four.html.

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GGE Ph.D. Students Win Best Student Paper Award at International Conference

Two UNB Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering Ph.D. students won a best student paper award at The Institute of Navigation (ION) Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) conference held in Portland, Oregon, during the fourth week in September. Simon Banville, mentored by Prof. Richard Langley and Hui Tang, tutored by Dr. Don Kim, received the honour for a paper entitled “Antenna Rotation and Its Effects on Kinematic Precise Point Positioning.”

Precise point positioning is a technique for using the very precise carrier-phase observations from a single GNSS receiver, such as a GPS receiver, to obtain position accuracies approaching a few centimeters.

The best student paper award, one of only eight, included an all-expenses-paid trip for one student to attend the conference and present the paper. As the lead author, Simon made the trip and gave the presentation.

The ION conference, which is held each year, boasted more than 300 papers in six parallel tracks. They were presented over three days to the more than 1500 GNSS engineers and scientists from industry, academia, and government agencies in attendance.

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Ocean Mapping Group Plays Pivotal Role in Clipper Adventurer Rescue

The Ocean Mapping Group at the University of New Brunswick has just completed critical surveys for navigational charting in support of the emergency operations underway due to the MV Clipper Adventurer grounding incident in the Northwest Passage.

On Friday, 27 August, the MV Clipper Adventurer went aground while following a transit sounding line in Coronation Gulf (see photos). The location was well outside the designated shipping lane that has been previously surveyed. The vessel was operating in an area that has only had reconnaissance via through-ice spot soundings spaced 6 km apart and rare transit tracks.

The CCGS Amundsen, under the command of Capt. Marc Thibault, was called off from survey operations in the Beaufort Sea to respond to the grounding. The Amundsen is a 98-m icebreaker dedicated to Arctic science. As part of the ArcticNet Networks of Centres of Excellence science program, the Ocean Mapping Group runs all sonar systems on board the CCGS Amundsen for scientific seabed survey. The vessel is equipped with a hull-mounted EM302 multibeam sonar and has a smaller EM3002 multibeam sonar mounted on the ship's barge for very shallow water operations. The Ocean Mapping Group is part of the Dept. of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering at UNB and is headed by Prof. John Hughes Clarke. Doug Cartwright and Ian Church from the Group are leading the survey operations using these two systems.

In order for the CCGS Amundsen to approach the grounded vessel, it was necessary to pre-survey a corridor to guarantee that the same fate did not await her. On Sunday, the Amundsen approached the grounding site along the edge of a corridor that she had surveyed using her multibeam echosounder in previous years. At the closest point of approach to the grounding site, the ship's barge was launched and the Ocean Mapping Group conducted a 10-km long corridor survey south through uncharted waters towards the stricken vessel. This was used to allow the Amundsen to approach the vessel for the purpose of transferring the passengers.

Since the transfer of the passengers to Kugluktuk, the Ocean Mapping Group has just completed further surveys using both vessels (see images). In deeper water, the Amundsen was used to expand the safe shipping corridor toward the grounding site. At the same time the barge was used to conduct exploratory surveys around and directly adjacent to the grounded vessel to establish the nature of the shoal. Together these surveys now provide safe navigational access so that towing and salvage vessels will be able to approach her. These surveys were completed by early Tuesday morning.

Contrary to what was reported in the media and by shipping company officials over the weekend, the location and depth of the shoal was already known. The Canadian Coast Guard issued a notice to shipping in 2007 for the grounding location, which states:

A102/07 - WESTERN ARCTIC - CORONATION GULF - SEPTEMBER 16, 2007
WESTERN ARCTIC
A SHOAL WAS DISCOVERED BETWEEN THE LAWSON
ISLANDS AND THE HOME ISLANDS IN THE SOUTHERN
CORONATION GULF IN POSITION 67 58.25'N 112
40.39'W. CHARTED DEPTH IN AREA 29 METERS.
LEAST DEPTH FOUND 3.3 METERS. ISOLATED ROCK.
REFER TO NAD83 DATUM.

On Tuesday mid-morning, the CCGS Wilfred Laurier arrived in the vicinity of the grounding with members of the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) who will be conducting additional survey operations. The Laurier will use survey launches, equipped with single-beam echo sounders and sidescan sonar to expand the survey area. The Ocean Mapping Group have now processed and handed over all survey information to the CHS staff on the Laurier for that purpose. The CCGS Amundsen is currently underway back to the Beaufort Sea where she will be resuming her scheduled scientific seabed survey operations.

Read the associated UNB news release.

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Two Female GGE Grads Featured in B.C.'s Land Surveyor Newsletter

The Summer 2010 issue of The Land Surveyor, an online newsletter of the Association of British Columbia Land Surveyors, is dedicated to B.C. women land surveyors. Two of the four pieces feature graduates of GGE's geomatics engineering program and its forerunner, the surveying engineering program.

One of the articles features Emily Freeman (née Prokopetz). Prior to coming to UNB, Emily finished a diploma program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. “It was extremely beneficial to attend BCIT prior to attending UNB,” she says in the article. Not only did she receive credit for many of her BCIT courses when she transferred to UNB, she also benefited from the strong foundation the college program gave her.

Emily graduated from UNB in 2005. She lives in Port Moody and works for Underhill & Underhill in Burnaby. Emily recently received her commission as a British Columbia Land Surveyor.

Another article features Gina Hidber (née Patey). Gina graduated from UNB in 1992. According to the article, “she started in the engineering program looking for a challenging career based in mathematics; she was exposed to surveying at the start of her second year and was attracted to the outdoor work, ability to travel, and the field's mental and physical challenges.”

Gina has worked for Challenger Surveys and Usher Canada and now runs her own company in Smithers, B.C., along with her husband. Gina also recently received her commission as a British Columbia Land Surveyor.

The newsletter also mentions GGE graduate Julia MacRory who received her commission in 1999, one of the first two women commissioned land surveyors in British Columbia.

To read the full articles in the newsletter, go to: http://ezread.ca/ABCLS/Summer2010/index.html.

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Geocaching with Stanley and Harvey High School Students

On May 25th and 27th, GGE members Jay Woodyer, David Fraser, and Michelle Ryan, travelled to Stanley High and Harvey High to conduct geocaching events with the high school students.

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UNB Works with German Space Agency to Acquire New GPS Signal

Researchers in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton were among the first scientists to acquire and assess a new and improved GPS signal transmitted by the recently launched satellite known as IIF-1.

While the new satellite has not yet been set healthy and made available for public use, the early measurements collected on June 17 have already confirmed the improved performance of the new signal.

IIF-1 is the first of a new breed of GPS satellite–Block IIF–that will re-populate the satellite constellation over the next few years as older satellites are retired.

Among other advances, each Block IIF satellite will deliver:

The new civil signal with the improved structure will be broadcast on the L5 frequency (1176.45 MHz) in the protected Aeronautical Radionavigation Services band.

The UNB team, led by Prof. Richard Langley, is using special GPS receiving equipment provided by the German Aerospace Center to investigate the new signal. The receivers at UNB together with those at other locations around the globe–including a 30-metre-diameter radio telescope in Germany–were the first to acquire and analyze the IIF-1 test signal. A report on the signal acquisition has been published on the website of GPS World magazine.

While some existing advanced GPS receivers, such as those at UNB, can be configured to track the L5 signal, commercial receivers for widespread use of the new signal will only become available in the next few years as more and more IIF satellites join the orbiting constellation.

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Geocaching with Doaktown Consolidated High School

The Department hosted students and teachers from Doaktown Consolidated High School on May 12, 2010 for a geocaching event. Students were divided into groups of four and then used a GPS receiver to navigate to nine waypoints around UNB campus. The waypoints are actually wooden stakes that were placed around the university. The group that found their waypoints first received a small prize.

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Landon Urquhart Featured in UniWorld

An article in the March 2010 issue of UniWorld, a biennial insert in University Affairs, the magazine of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, reports on the University of New Brunswick's outreach program in Malawi.

Among other initiatives, this program is assisting with the development of higher education capacity and training in geomatics at Mzuzu University in the northern part of the country. Malawi lacks a sufficient number of trained land surveyors as well as equipment necessary to modernize the process of land management in the country. Working through the university's Department of Land Management, UNB is providing part-time teaching staff and donated equipment to help solve the problem.

The project, which was developed by UNB's Centre for Property Studies, has strong support from GGE. Under the program, several UNB students have spent three-month internships at Mzuzu University. One of these was GGE graduate student Landon Urquhart, who spent part of last summer at the university teaching students how to use modern geomatics equipment including GPS receivers and laser-based ranging instruments.

The UniWorld article, “Learning the Lay of the Land,” features Mr. Urquhart and his internship. Commenting on the donation of the equipment to the university, he said “The university recognized that it was a big step for them and they were very grateful for it. Since they have this equipment now, they have started collaborating with regional surveyors to give their students some practical experience.”

Mr. Urquhart continues to champion UNB's Malawi project. “Any time I have the chance to talk about it I do, to get more people involved because it was such a great experience,” he says. “It's important that we realize the impact that we can have in other areas of the world.”

The March 2010 issue of UniWorld can be downloaded here: http://www.aucc.ca/_pdf/english/publications/uniworld/2010/uniworld_mar2010.pdf.

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UNB's GGE Department Awarded University's Highest Research Ranking

The Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering (GGE) at UNB Fredericton has been awarded a research ranking of 1-star in the university's latest research ranking exercise. The new premier ranking level is awarded, where merited, to only one research unit on each of the UNB campuses per ranking exercise, which is carried out every two years.

This exercise has become an important tool that assists the Office of the Vice-President (Research) in measuring research output of the faculties at UNB. This data helps in promoting the university as a leading research facility and in comparing it to other universities in the country. Based on such data, it was recently announced that UNB ranked first in research publication growth amongst Canadian comprehensive universities between 2002 and 2007.

To achieve the 1-star ranking at UNB, a research unit must surpass all attributes of a number 1 ranking and show clear evidence of leading research activity by all members of the unit.

GGE has received a research ranking of 1 in every exercise since the review process was initiated at UNB over a decade ago. It shared such rankings with just a few other units. The new ranking confers “flagship status” to the department.

The awarding of the 1-star ranking coincides with the department's celebration of its 50th anniversary. Founded in 1960, the department was the first in English-speaking Canada to offer university education in geomatics–the discipline that encompasses the art, science, and technology involved in collecting and managing geographically referenced information. This information can come from a variety of sources including earth-orbiting satellites such as GPS, air and sea-borne sensors, and ground-based instrumentation.

World-class research, in addition to the delivery of highly respected undergraduate and graduate teaching programs, has always been a hallmark of the department. It is not widely known but GGE researchers helped to map the moon for NASA's selection of lunar landing sites in the 1960s and here at home developed the technology that was used to precisely map Canada's north using satellite technology.

The department's current research strengths span the whole breadth of geomatics, from making GPS work better to helping develop land reform legislation in Brazil. GGE researchers have developed technologies used by Google Earth and have designed systems to ensure safety at open-pit mines in Chile and elsewhere. And GGE is helping to map the floor of the Arctic Ocean to bolster Canada's claim to resources and sovereignty over the Northwest Passage.

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GPS, Google Earth, and Devon Middle School

In response to a request from District 18's Community for Schools Program, GGE volunteered to conduct several GPS exercises and a Google Earth exercise with Devon Middle School students. One of the GPS exercises, conducted in early March, consisted of finding "stickers" located around Devon Middle School using a GPS receiver. The "stickers" were placed on stair railings, the school building, trees, garbage cans, soccer posts, and fence posts. The location of each sticker was stored in the receivers and the students used the navigation function of the GPS receivers to find each sticker. The students quickly became familiar with using a GPS receiver to navigate to the different points and soon began racing from point to point.

An objective of GGE's outreach program is to conduct hands-on geomatics activities with K-12 students. These activities are designed to showcase some of the technology and information sources (such as satellite images) that our UNB GGE students make use of while at UNB and that geomatics engineers make use of in their careers. The hands-on GPS exercises coupled with classroom presentations help give students an appreciation of how GPS works and what GPS can be used for. The hands-on Google Earth exercise helped show the students the many different uses of Google Earth and gave them an appreciation of topography (such as viewing Fredericton, Whistler, and Mount Everest in 3D) and what can and cannot be seen in images taken from space.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look, 25 KB. (Photo: Dave Fraser, 2010-March-29)

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GGE Holds Student Technical Conference

The Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering Semi-Annual Student Technical Conference was held on March 24 and 25, 2010. It took place at the Dineen Auditorium in Head Hall on the University of New Brunswick's Fredericton campus.

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Tenure Track Faculty Position Available in GGE

Applications are invited for a tenure-track position in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton campus, commencing 1 January 2011 or earlier if possible, at the Assistant Professor level. Details.

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GGE's John McLaughlin Given Distinguished Citizen Award

John McLaughlin was one of four Frederictonians who received distinguished citizen awards at a gala celebration on March 25 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Fredericton. According a report in The Daily Gleaner, Dr. McLaughlin, former president and vice-chancellor of UNB as well as a GGE faculty member, “spent his career raising awareness about the importance of education.”

The newspaper report included the following quotations:

“I'm thrilled with the award,” McLaughlin said. “I'm from Fredericton, and to be recognized by my community means an awful lot to me.

“I think being a distinguished citizen is about passion and commitment. It's anyone who believes in their community and wants to make a difference.”

Since 1976, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce has annually recognized those individuals in the community who have provided extraordinary service and/or leadership contributing to the quality of life in the community.

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The Canadian Space Agency's Dr. Shen-En Qian Visits GGE

On March 16, 2010, Dr. Shen-En Qian from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) visited the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering to explore the potential of research collaboration in optical space technology development.

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Kim Delorey, GGE Office Manager, Retires

On Thursday, February 25, 2010, Geodesy & Geomatics Engineering said farewell to an amazing lady, co-worker and undergrad secretary, Kim Delorey. A lady we have all come to know, admire and ultimately come to for advice.

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Anna Szostak-Chrzanowski Leads UNB's Joint Project with C-CORE on Safeguarding Critical Infrastructure

Peter MacKay, National Defence Minister, announced $13.8 million in funding to seven research projects based in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE) in St. John's together with UNB's Canadian Centre for Geodetic Engineering (CCGE) receives approximately $2.2 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund for the project “Integrity and Security of Critical Infrastructure.” The total estimated cost of the project is $5.3 million.

The partners will conduct research and development in next generation satellite imaging, ground-based synthetic aperture radar technology, and geoscience methods capable of predicting subsurface ground movement. There is growing demand worldwide to monitor and protect against hazards such as ground movement and security threats to critical infrastructure (hydro-electric dams, nuclear power plants, airports, seaports, mines, pipelines, and oil and gas installations).

Anna Szostak-Chrzanowski will lead UNB's portion of the project and Adam Chrzanowski will be a key participant. Dr. Szostak-Chrzanowski's area of research is in the development of new methods for integrated analysis of structural and ground deformations using monitoring-prediction modeling.

For more information see the article in The Telegram.

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UNB's GGE Begins Celebration of Golden Anniversary

The Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering (GGE) at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It was established in 1960 as a program in the Department of Civil Engineering and became the fully-fledged Department of Surveying Engineering in 1965. The department changed its name to Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering in 1994 to better reflect the interdisciplinary spectrum of its activities.

The department was the first in English-speaking Canada to offer university education in geomatics–the discipline that encompasses the art, science, and technology involved in collecting and managing geographically referenced information. This information can come from a variety of sources including earth-orbiting satellites such as GPS, air and sea-borne sensors, and ground-based instrumentation.

Geographical information, manipulated with high-tech computer hardware and software, plays an important role in activities such as environmental studies; management of land and marine resources; monitoring of dams, oil fields, and mines for subsidence or other movements; navigation on land, at sea, and in the air; oceanography; real estate transactions; and tourism.

Several universities in Canada and elsewhere have patterned their geomatics programs on the one pioneered at UNB. Yet, UNB's GGE remains a leader–nationally and internationally–in geomatics education and research.

Even during economically difficult times, students graduating from GGE's undergraduate and graduate programs are in high demand with virtually 100% employment.

It is not widely known but GGE researchers helped to map the moon for NASA's selection of lunar landing sites in the 1960s and here at home developed the technology that was used to precisely map Canada's north using satellite technology.

The department's current research strengths span the whole breadth of geomatics, from making GPS work better to helping develop land reform legislation in Brazil. GGE researchers have developed technologies used by Google and have designed systems to ensure safety at open-pit mines in Chile and elsewhere. And GGE is helping to map the floor of the Arctic Ocean to bolster Canada's claim to resources and sovereignty over the Northwest Passage.

The department is marking its anniversary with a number of projects and events including a book on its history; a specially designed wall calendar; a plaque commemorating the founding of the department; a special issue of Canada's geomatics journal, Geomatica, in June dedicated to the department; and special sessions at this fall's Geomatics Atlantic–the region's annual meeting for geomatics professionals, hosted this year by the New Brunswick Branch of the Canadian Institute of Geomatics and UNB.

Website: gge.unb.ca

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