Teaching terrestrial laser scanning for spatial data collection and applications: experiential learning as a tool to enhance the development of higher level graduate capabilities

Liu, Xiaoye and Zhang, Zhenyu and Basson, Mariata ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9731-1128 (2019) Teaching terrestrial laser scanning for spatial data collection and applications: experiential learning as a tool to enhance the development of higher level graduate capabilities. In: 30th Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2019), 8-11 Dec 2019, Brisbane, Australia.


Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is one of the most effective and efficient means of spatial data collection for a wide range of applications, including engineering applications. It is an active remote sensing technology that enables the collection of high-density and high accuracy 3D point cloud data in a short period of time. Over the last decade, TLS has become one of the most commonly used technologies in surveying and spatial science (Zhang, 2017), but has also found its home in structural and civil engineering in projects like airport layout optimisation, coastline monitoring and water-risk assessment (Berenyi et al., 2010; Hinks et al., 2013); building information modelling (BIM) (Randall, 2011); construction engineering, monitoring and management (Mukupa et al., 2016; Pejić, 2013); production system engineering (Berglund et al., 2016); volume estimation for mining (Hinks et al., 2013) and geological engineering (Nguyen et al., 2011). The relationship between TLS and the various engineering disciplines cannot be disputed. The high levels of accuracy required of data inputs in the engineering environment thus heavily relies on the surveyor who captures the 3D data (Berglund et al., 2016), which has implications for tertiary institutions teaching surveying.

The significant progress in the field of precise measurements and its instrumentation poses the question how these advances are conveyed from the field of knowledge to students, as universities are expected to educate students on the latest developments in order to ensure employability and job-readiness of students (Hejmanowska et al., 2015). Universities providing education in surveying need to ponder not only surveying curriculum design but also the design of individual courses to ensure that students are competent users of cutting edge technology such as TLS, given the high-liability application of the data that they will provide.

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) is one of the leading providers of tertiary education in civil engineering and construction management, and is the only university in Queensland providing both undergraduate and graduate qualifications in surveying. These qualifications can be gained via online, blended and on-campus modes of education. Responding to the calls from industry for faster, safer and more accurate alternatives to traditional surveying methods, the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying has strived to improve the teaching of efficient spatial data collection methods over the last decade (Zhang & Liu, 2019). Since 2008, with the acquisition of our first terrestrial laser scanner, Leica ScanStation 2, TLS has been introduced as part of the remote sensing curriculum in a both a third year course, Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, as well as a fourth year course, Advanced Surveying, as well as research topics on TLS in our capstone research courses. To breach the divide that often exists between academia and practice with the adoption of new technologies, a combined practitioner/academic instructed workshop was designed to both educate students on the theory underpinning TLS knowledge and to improve students’ practical skills. This workshop has been part of a practice course since 2012. The aim of the one-day workshop is to enable students to demonstrate an understanding of the principle of TLS, describe the categories of terrestrial laser scanners, explain the error sources in TLS, understand the general procedure of a laser scanning project, perform laser scanning field work using our FARO 3D Focus laser scanner, process laser scanning data and produce a cleaned point cloud data for 3D building modelling. The fourth year course, Advanced Surveying, provided the opportunity to scaffold the acquisition of knowledge on LTS by providing higher level instruction and requiring higher practical skills levels in TLS. The latter course includes error analysis, project planning, field work procedure, data processing and applications of TLS (Zhang, 2017).

In the early part of this paper, we presented the field of TLS, and its applications in the wide variety of engineering disciplines. We also highlighted the necessity for high levels of accuracy in the high-liability engineering environment, the significant advances in TLS in the past decade and the necessity of ensuring that students are competent users of such technology. We then briefly described the current instruction of, as well as research opportunities on TLS for surveying students in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. The next section will deal with the pedagogical approaches adopted to teach TLS.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright © 2019 AAEE.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 Jul 2013 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 Jul 2013 -)
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2020 05:40
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2020 04:47
Uncontrolled Keywords: terrestrial laser scanning; spatial data collection; higher education
Fields of Research (2008): 09 Engineering > 0909 Geomatic Engineering > 090906 Surveying (incl. Hydrographic Surveying)
Fields of Research (2020): 40 ENGINEERING > 4013 Geomatic engineering > 401306 Surveying (incl. hydrographic surveying)
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930203 Teaching and Instruction Technologies
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/39402

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