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 Technology&more

L

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

2

 (280 m

2

) 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.

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Paul LeBlanc (Geomatics Program junior), working in Poche Scanning Lab