aser scanning is rapidly becoming an indispensable
tool for many types of surveying. Its advent, as well as
numerous other technological advances, can make it
challenging for active surveyors to “keep up with the times.”
This is also true for students in geomatics and surveying pro-
grams and for the schools that offer these programs. But the
Geomatics Program at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux,
Louisiana, has recently responded to the challenge of giving its
graduates a competitive advantage.
Dr. Balaji Ramachandran joined the Nicholls State University in
2004 as an Assistant Professor. Currently the Geomatics Pro-
gram Coordinator and Head of the Department of Applied
Sciences, Dr. Ramachandran’s goal has been to grow the
Geomatics Program each year. And a major growth spurt oc-
curred in the fall of 2011 with the opening of the new Harold C.
“Charlie” Poche Jr. Laser Scanning Laboratory.
Named for Harold Charles “Charlie” Poche Jr., who was owner
and president of Navigation Electronics, Inc. (NEI), until his
death in 2000, the lab was funded with a combination of
competitive grants and support from NEI, Louisiana Society
of Professional Surveyors (LSPS), and Nicholls State University
Technology Initiative. NEI has also made an on-going commit-
ment to provide specified support to the lab and geomatics
program. Today, the state-of-the-art facility is valued at over
half a million dollars.
Scanning New Horizons
The Poche Scanning Lab includes four 3D laser scanners (a
phase-based scanner, two time-of-flight scanners and one
hybrid scanner), advanced 3D modeling software, and ten
high-end workstations for processing and modeling data.
The main goal of this facility is to train students and returning
professionals on all aspects of laser-scanning applications. It
has already proven fruitful, boasting a list of student projects
including a 3D model of historic buildings on the Nicholls
campus, volume calculations of a design to raise the City of
Thibodaux soccer field by 2 ft (0.6 m), and an as-built model of
the Poche Lab facility itself.
Ahead of the Curve
“The Poche Lab gives us students the opportunity to work with
an extremely capable set of technology,” said recent graduate
Brett Antill. Along with three other students, Antill developed
an as-built model of the 3,000 ft
) lab using Trimble FX™
and Trimble CX™ 3D scanners. The students performed a total
of five scans, using black and white paper targets placed around
the room. A Trimble S6 total station was used to measure the
locations of the targets and tie them to an assumed coordinate
system. The five scan observations were then processed and
tied together using Trimble RealWorks® software. The overall
goal of the project was to demonstrate the efficacy of scan-
ners in performing as-built surveys.
Paul LeBlanc (Geomatics Program junior), working in Poche Scanning Lab