Penn State takes first in topographic mapping at national surveying championship

July 5, 2023

By Mariah R. Lucas

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A group of Penn State civil engineering students took first place in the topographic mapping category of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Surveying Competition Finals, sponsored by the Utility Engineering and Surveying Institute. 

The team edged out 16 other teams who also qualified to compete for the top slot. The 16 invitees were the top competitors at 13 regional conferences around the country, in which more than 80 schools in total participated. In May, the team placed first overall in the ASCE Mid-Atlantic West Symposium to advance to the finals, which took place June 10-12 at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

The competition was broken into two parts: topographic mapping, for which Penn State took first, and field surveying. For the mapping segment, the students were tasked with creating accurate topographic maps showing the relevant features within a property identified by judges. 

Students were given four weeks ahead of the competition to convert the raw survey data into their submission, which included a surface model and two topographic maps, one utilizing contours and one utilizing color shading to depict elevation changes across the site.

“Our students had perfect scores for correctness of the topography and almost perfect scores for appearance and aesthetics of the map elements, as well as high scores for the delivery of the presentation,” said Brian Naberezny, Penn State assistant teaching professor of civil and environmental engineering, who served as faculty adviser for the group. 

This was the first time that Penn State participated in the competition at either the regional or national level, Naberezny said. 

“I believe what made our project stand out from the rest was the clean layout of the plans and our attention to detail,” said Chase Ziegler, team captain of the surveying contingent of Penn State ASCE. “Our team went above and beyond to identify all existing features, even identifying the various ground cover throughout the site. These efforts, along with the guidance from our adviser, led our team to a victory.”

The competition was particularly challenging, Naberezny said, as it came at a time when students were returning home for summer break and starting summer internships and had to collaborate remotely through email and Zoom.

“I am most proud of how all the students in the organization contributed to the success and truly exemplified a ‘We Are’ spirit,” Naberezny said. “Those who could not attend every meeting or lacked experience in some areas found ways to contribute to the team, which ultimately led to our success at both the regional and the championships.”  

In addition to Ziegler, 2023 civil engineering graduate Thomas Perun and civil engineering majors Mason Edwards, Tobey Field, Nicholas Gavran, Matthew Geib, Curtis Kinzel and Bridget Rengers competed on the championship team. Edwards serves as president of Penn State ASCE.

Civil engineering major Jared Bodisch and 2023 civil engineering graduates Lacey Fink, Matthew Hallissey, Jason Seeger and Andrew Zabriskie also participated in the regional competition in May that led to the team’s invitation to the finals. Hallissey is a rising first-year master’s student in civil engineering at Penn State.  


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