Two Nicholls Students Place at National Surveying Competition

THIBODAUX, La. — Two Nicholls State University Geomatics students finished second in a national surveying competition.

Ashish Pandey and Breanna Arthur competed in the student competition held by the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). This year’s competition was virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NSPS Competitions test student’s knowledge and understanding of land surveying principles. The teams replicated the work of 18th-century scientists, including Sir Isaac Newton. Students had to determine the shape of the earth without using modern technology, data or going “into the field.” The students also had to create a budget as if it were a real project.

“There was a debate in the 1600s and 1700s about the shape of the earth. Some said the earth was egg-shaped, while others said the earth had an oblate shape. In other words, it is flatter at the poles and wider near the equator,” said Dr. John Dennis, assistant professor of geomatics. “Ashish and Breanna did a great job. They used traditional formulas, forces of gravity and logic to assess what the shape of the earth takes.”

Pandey said the students learned to apply traditional methods of surveying to the modern era.

“We learned a lot about the history of geodesy itself, and how it has evolved throughout time,” Pandey said. “We also learned diverse ideas in surveying and connected with leading professionals in the geospatial fields. This was a wonderful opportunity to compete on the national level.”

Dr. Dennis also served as the team’s advisor. He praised Pandey and Arthur for their work ethic. Throughout the process, he said, the pair would stay after class and come in on weekends to work on their response.

“I am incredibly proud of Ashish and Breanna,” Dr. Dennis said. “We only found out about the competition with less than a month of time to work on the project. But they took on this project while also staying dedicated to their academic responsibilities.”

Pandey thanked Dr. Dennis, Department Head Dr. Esra Tekdal Yilmaz and Cassi Fradella, applied sciences administrative assistant, for their help in getting prepared for the competition.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to compete on the national level,” he said. “Coming in second place has just made us proud of the effort we invested in it.”

The NSPS is a professional geospatial organization focused on advocating for the geospatial community through legislation, regulation and policies. It supports its members by providing learning and leadership opportunities, as well as hosting competitions and offering grants.

​​The Nicholls Geomatics Program aims to provide its graduates with professional surveying and mapping education. Students take part in unique research and outreach opportunities during their studies, often involving the Louisiana coast. The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education both list the field as one of the top emerging industries in the country.

For more information on Nicholls Geomatics, visit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 20, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.