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“Working on these kinds of projects allows students to see the efficiency 
of scanning over conventional surveying methods,” said Dr. Ramachan-
dran. “They see how the profession is continuously changing with new 
emerging technologies.” 

A Model Ambition
Another recent graduate of the Geomatics Program, Andrew Szush said 
his final year project was developed to “educate students on the capa-
bilities of laser scanning.” Szush led a team of students who scanned the 
school’s Elkins, Otto B. Candies and Picciola halls. 

The group performed scans from a total of 24 stations, logging a total 
of five hours of observation time. Trimble R8 GNSS receivers were used 
as rovers and base stations in RTK, conducting two 2-minute observa-
tions at each location to tie control points to the Louisiana State Plane 
Coordinate System. The point-cloud data collected was also processed 
using Trimble RealWorks software. Geometric shapes were then best fit 
to the point cloud data in order to generate the walls of the structures. 
Because the students used multiple project files for each scan station (to 
download the files more quickly), they later struggled tying the multiple 
project files together. The complete 3D models of the buildings went 
unfinished due to the size of the project and schedule. However, the next 
year’s seniors were able to finish the models. Szush admits, “It would have 
been advantageous to start on a small scale.” But the students’ ambition 
to model the three halls echoed Dr. Ramachandran’s ambitious vision of 
the scanning lab’s future. 

Teaching, Research and Outreach
Dr. Ramachandran’s hopes for the lab are “teaching, research and outreach,” 
he said. One objective is that the scanners will become a part of the third-
year curriculum which will include highway design work. He would also 
like to see a research project focused on the progress of coastal restoration 
along the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, Dr. Ramachandran hopes to offer adult 
or “continuing education” classes in scanning for returning professionals. 

Dr. Ramachandran is currently working on an initiative to set up an Un-
manned Aircraft Systems (UAS) laboratory that will complement the Poche 
Scanning Lab. Currently the Nicholls Geomatics Program is the only school 
in Louisiana to have obtained an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA). 
This allows them to fly UAS over the barrier islands to study bird habitats, 
coastal restoration and offshore petroleum platforms. His goal is to provide 
a “rich undergraduate educational experience.” He would like to see the 
Nicholls Geomatics Program as a “one-stop education portal for Geospatial 
technologies.” He hopes to have the UAS lab ready by the end of this year. 

The students understand their scanning experience will benefit them 
after graduation day. “As a graduating student, this experience with scan-
ning gives me added benefits that not many other graduates around the 
country have,” said Antill. An alumnus of the Geomatics Program, Jake 
Rodrigue, had similar sentiments: “I believe laser scanners will become the 
norm just as GPS has become in modern surveying. I believe the Poche 
Lab is an important asset to the program and will produce great students 
with innovative ideas.” 

The Nicholls Geomatics Program celebrated 10 years of operation this past spring. 
More information about the program can be found at the following URL: http://www.
nicholls.edu/doas/  

See feature in American Surveyor's Issue 10, #10: www.amerisurv.com

Nicholls State Univ. Geomatics Program students and 

recent graduates get up to speed with scanners, total 

stations and GNSS equipment:

Top:  Dr. Ramachandran, Paul LeBlanc (Jr.), Kent Hebert 

   (Graduate), and Monica Crout (Sr.)

2nd:  Cody Parks and Brett Antill (Graduates)

3rd:  Jessica Freeman (Jr.), Kent Hebert, Paul LeBlanc, 

    Dr. Ramachandran, Monica Crout, and Ann Hebert (Jr.)

4th:  Cody Parks and Paul LeBlanc