GEOSPATIAL WILL DEFEND ITSELF



By Chelal Evans Kimutai.

"Many good things are resisted in thiscountry..." Professor Mulaku uttered in a soft voice. The debate continues as to whether Geospatial Engineering should or will be registered by the Engineers Boar d of Kenya.

BSc. Geospatial Engineering was adopted as the new name for the BSc. Surveying program in 2004, having gone through various transitions over couple of decades. Having begun in the 1950s as 'BSc Surveying', later changed to 'BSc in Surveying and Photogrammetry' in 1971, the department got tired of the "disruptive" technologies as the industry evolved and matured to one of the mainstream business with an identity in world economy, and therefore stopped giving names of the course to the tools used.

The geospatial industry is currently going through substantial changes and these are starting to have a significant impact in the utility sector, as well as other industries having being extensively described as a blooming consumer market. With the ever growing use and implementation of spatial data and resources, Geospatial need not be in the streets protesting to be heard as the mass of Geospatial Engineers are increasing and our influence expanding.

This can be seen in the exemplary usage of geospatial tools in various fields and industries such as Governance, Infrastracture,Public Safely, Utilities, Design and Engineering, Environment Agriculture, Mining and Exploration, Transport Management, Business Intelligence, Disaster Management... just but to mention a few.

But the question still remains, "Should Geospatial Engineering be registered by the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK)?"

Ifyouateanapplewithoutknowing it was called an apple, would it be less of an apple? If you performed engineering activities without others really recognizing it as engineering, would it stop being engineering?

Many students are agitated by the fact

Many students are agitated by the fact that they were admitted as engineering students. The letter of admission did read, 'BSc. Geospatial Engineering', but the reality on the ground is not the same.

  • Why would you admit students as engineers yet they are not?
  • Why name the course engineering if it is not?
  • What would it take for us to be registered by EBK?
  • What next after this debate?
  • What are we to tell the people back home who think their child is studying to be an engineer?

These are some of the questions the students needed answers to leading to Dr. Ing. Musyoka S.M., the Chairman of the Department and Chair of Professional Ethics & Practice in the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK), to wade into the debate and make it clear that the name of the degree and department are two separate entities. Dr. Musyoka alluded to the fact that it is possible for one department to be offering 3 different degrees. Even though there may not be a cordial relationship with EBK, we shouldn't suffer from inferiority complex for we are recognized by the Lands Board and ISK.

Truth be told, the agitation will not stop with us and the department having the best general interests of students, should invite the former Geospatial graduates, now in the market place, to give their thoughts on the registration push and advise us on whether it is really important.

And as students, from the rich counsel of our lecturers, at the moment we should focus on the completion of the degree that will provide us with an advanced training in GIS - training us to use and apply geospatial hardware, software and data in the urban and environmental planning scenarios. And by also standing on their shoulders, learn to become leaders in the management and utilization of geospatial technologies within the job market - public, private and not- for-profit- sectors.

The best way to be heard or to initiate a new era of industrialization of geospatial technology is by expanding the horizons of geospatial industry in Kenya for the benefit of the people. Like the huge growth in Smartphone and tablets which was driven by the consumer market, so will geospatial technology.

And I do agree that the term "surveying" no longer accurately covers the whole range of tasks that the profession deals with but as we advocate for our recognition let us not do it at the expense of the pride and heritage we share as Geospatial Engineers. We do not need a name to experience and do something real, worthy, useful, or satisfying.