Where Theory Meets Practice Archives

Where Theory Meets Practice: Defining Surfaces

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This entry is part 1 of 34 in the series Where Theory Meets Practice

The Earth is composed of several physical and mathematical surfaces that play important roles in surveying. As shown in green in Figure 1, the surface that we are most familiar with is the topographic surface. This is the top layer of the Earth that most people spend their entire life on. It is the surface on […]

Where Theory Meets Practice: Grid versus Ground

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This entry is part 2 of 34 in the series Where Theory Meets Practice

In this article, I demonstrate the proper computations used when working with conventional surveys that use state plane coordinates. I purposefully selected a traverse in Pennsylvania that climbs about 1100 ft in its 2-mi length. By examining this particular site as an example, the reader can see the effects of elevation on the computations and […]

Where Theory Meets Practice: SPCS Zone Conversions

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This entry is part 3 of 34 in the series Where Theory Meets Practice

Whether you learn fundamentals of surveying from a formal degree program, certificate program, CEU seminars and workshops, self-study, or in-the-field training, you feel a certain delight in that moment of discovery when the theoretical has met the practical. These moments come when (what first appear to be) dry mathematical or legal principles taught in the […]

Where Theory Meets Practice: Determining Your State’s Next SPCS Zone

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This entry is part 4 of 34 in the series Where Theory Meets Practice

In the 1930s when the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), formerly the Coast and Geodetic Survey, created the first state plane coordinate system (SPCS), they limited the precision between a geodetic (ellipsoid) distance and the map distance to a precision of 1:10,000 or better by limiting the width of the zones. This resulted in many states with multiple […]

Where Theory Meets Practice: The Geiod and Leveling

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This entry is part 5 of 34 in the series Where Theory Meets Practice

As mentioned previously in this column, the geoid is the equipotential gravitational surface on which all elevations are referenced. An equipotential surface is where the force times distance is a constant. Gravity provides the force, and the distance is the height above this surface defined along the plumb line of an instrument. As shown in Figure […]

Where Theory Meets Practice: Transformations and Reference Frames, Part 1

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This entry is part 6 of 34 in the series Where Theory Meets Practice

A year ago I watched as a surveyor pulled out his GNSS receiver with a real-time network data link to perform a site survey for a local construction project. I took this opportunity to ask him if he could locate a Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) reference monument. Because he also needed this monument, he […]