Greek philosopher Aristotle, in The Nicomachean Ethics, had said that “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”. Experiential learning, inarguably, is the best way of preparing a student for future challenges. Demonstrating this philosophy is the Civil Engineering Department at the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar, where students are given hands-on training in surveying through cutting-edge Trimble technology.
“In 2016, the Department of Civil Engineering was established by IIT Ropar with a focus beyond conventional civil engineering (structural engineering) to the applied aspects as well. In order to match with the vision of IIT Ropar, the department’s mission was directed to water resources and the environment,” says Dr Reet Kamal Tiwari, Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering department.
To achieve this mission, the department authorities tasked Dr Tiwari with setting up a Geomatics lab, as Geomatics plays an important role in monitoring the environment and water resources. “The geomatics lab was started as a basic survey lab with traditional surveying instruments. However, we soon felt the need to upgrade, and introduced modern facilities and advanced survey instruments like total station, GNSS receivers, handheld GIS mobile mappers and robotic total station with scanning facility,” adds Dr Tiwari.
What’s missing was industry-academia partnership, and that too was built in 2018, the year when the Civil Engineering department bought state-of-the-art Trimble equipment and set up a Trimble Technology Lab within the Geomatics lab. “In India, we are very good at the theoretical aspect of education but lag behind in the practical aspect. When it comes to solving a mathematical problem, we are probably the best in the world. However, a mathematical idea can become a technology only when we put it into practice. This is why we designed a curriculum in IIT Ropar which gives special emphasis on hands-on learning,” says Professor Sarit Kumar Das, Director, IIT Ropar.
Soon after the proposal to set up a Geomatics lab was cleared, the Director insisted on an industry partnership. “That is how Trimble came into the picture. We wanted our students to be trained using state-of-the-art survey equipment,” adds Professor Das. Today, the Civil Engineering students are using cutting-edge Trimble products such as SX10 scanning total station, R10 GNSS system, C5 Mechanical Total Station, TDC100 handheld data collector and Trimble Business Center software to perfect the ‘field to finish’ concept.
“Trimble is proud to be associated with IIT Ropar. We are happy that they have set up a Trimble Technology lab in the Civil Engineering department. Dr Tiwari, who was instrumental in setting up the lab, spent a lot of time in picking up the right equipment and technology for the lab to provide excellent insight in the field of surveying to the students. We have provided multiple licenses of Trimble Business Centre software to the lab so that the students can also get hands-on experience in data processing,” says Amit Saxena, Regional Sales Manager-Geospatial, SAARC Region at Trimble.
The Trimble SX10 scanning total station redefines the capabilities of everyday survey equipment by providing the world’s most innovative solution for surveying, engineering and scanning professionals. It is capable of collecting any combination of high-density 3D scan data, enabling the user to capture exactly what he needs. Trimble’s new Lightning 3DM enables the SX10 to capture both high-accuracy total station measurements and true high-speed 3D scans together in a single instrument.
On the other hand, the R10 GNSS receiver makes collection of more accurate data faster and easier. Built with powerful technologies integrated into a sleek design, the unique system provides its users with a powerful way to increase data collection productivity in every project. The receiver also provides improved protection against sources of interference and spoofed signals. It can be connected to Android or iOS mobile devices running supported apps via Bluetooth.
“We wanted the students to be familiar with the latest surveying practices. So, I decided to directly get in touch with the industry players and build an industry-academia partnership. After some thought, we decided to go for Trimble technology and equip our lab with latest Trimble products and equipment. In the past two years, our students have benefitted immensely from the facility and have taken up several projects focused at public welfare. These include the infrastructure-related project for Chandigarh airport and the project to address the long-standing problem of waterlogging in several villages of Ropar district,” explains Dr Tiwari.
The data collected by students in the field is then processed in the lab using the Trimble Business Center software. TBC offers customizable templates, simplified selection tools and automated plotting functionality. The software further allows its user to manage, process and create customer deliverables for all survey tasks with just one software package. “We congratulate IIT Ropar for providing such high-quality education to their students. They have also been offering consultancy to various government departments in Punjab and Haryana,” adds Saxena.
At a two-day workshop on modern geomatics techniques organized by the Department of Civil Engineering, the authorities and students trained participants from government and private sectors from across India in advanced surveying. Using the latest Trimble technology, the participants were given hands-on experience in data capture and processing. “I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived here for the workshop. Today was the first day and we were taken to the field for survey. I am so happy to have come here and learnt how to use the latest surveying equipment. I will definitely come back the next time such a workshop is held and will also recommend my friends and colleagues to come attend,” says Ayushi Pandey, Junior Research Fellow at Delhi Technological University.