Laser Vision

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
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Rich Vannozzi lives for that “Aha!” moment. “I like to see people discover that they can do something they couldn’t do before,” he says, revealing the passion for educating that helped him garner the highest honor in the teaching of surveying: the 2012 Fennel Award. Vannozzi, who enjoys bringing new people into the profession of surveying, says to his students, “Let’s take a look at where you were the first day you came in. What competencies do you have now?” His positive approach to teaching has helped turn out profession-ready graduates who are both competent and confident.

Vannozzi is in good company with such esteemed colleagues as Thompson School of Applied Science professor of surveying Bob Moynihan and Knud Hermansen, who teaches survey engineering technology at the University of Maine. Both are past recipients of the Fennel Award, rounding out a teaching tour de force that makes New England the strongest location for surveying education in the country. Students from all over seek out the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) highly reputed program in Civil Technology with its concentrations in Architectural Technology, Construction Management, and Surveying and Mapping.

The Thompson School’s Surveying and Mapping is a premiere Associate Degree program in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA). Graduates go on to work in a multitude of different occupations in the built environment. Some employment options are in construction management, architecture, drafting for engineering companies, heavy construction, and professional land surveying. As for the latter, the Thompson School’s program prepares students to take the first qualifying exam after only two years of study, which is unique in surveying education. “Our curriculum is very profession-ready,” says Vannozzi. “Surveyors are the most precise users of GPS and other high-end electronics. We can’t do this level of work without these tools.”

The Thompson School boasts a repertoire of cutting edge technology, including a state-of-the-art terrestrial laser scanner – with a far greater range and more precision than earlier models – in measuring the distance to its surroundings with a cloud of points. “One of the things that makes an education at the Thompson School unique is that we put the new technology in the hands of the students to help them develop useable competencies,” says Vannozzi. “This is not a show and tell. We help students become productive and competent.”

One of Vannozzi’s most memorable teaching experiences since coming to UNH was mentoring students as they teamed with a project that benefitted the Warmth from the Millyard program, designed to provide winter clothes to lower income families in the region. “They used GIS mapping to create an online map of all the places where an individual could find warm clothing and the bus stations nearby,” says Vannozzi. “It was really practical and important information.”

Given that kind of project involvement, students can add community service to the comprehensive list of what they can do after completing the Civil Technology program at the Thompson School.