Promoting Texas Surveying in China

By: Paul Kwan, R.P.L.S.

During the 2016 TSPS Convention Open House/President’s Reception, I had the opportunity to enjoy the company of colleagues and see friends that I only have the opportunity to see annually at the convention. This year three employees of my firm also were in attendance to join in the fun and education opportunities the conference provides. Sarah Yang, R.P.L.S., Debbie Li, R.P.L.S., and Nhuy Nguyen, R.P.L.S. had the privilege to meet Trisha Lund, R.P.L.S., Heather Sides, R.P.L.S., and Coleen Johnson, R.P.L.S., demonstrating the many opportunities for women surveyors available today.

As the evening winded down and after a hearty meal of finger foods and sufficient refreshments, I was approached by Dr. Gary Jeffress, R.P.L.S. about a trip to China to promote the Texas A&M Corpus Christi masters and PhD program to students at Wuhan University.  Sarah Yang, R.P.L.S. graduated from Wuhan University with a bachelor’s degree in Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. He commented that it would be beneficial for Wuhan Students to understand the value of her Wuhan Degree and its acceptance as a qualified degree in Texas, as well as learn about surveying in the USA from a Texas R.P.L.S. graduated from their alma mater.  He inquired if I can sponsor Sarah’s travel expenses to attend the one week conference in the City of Wuhan. Thus, a unique opportunity to promote Texas surveying and the Texas A&M Corpus Christi graduate program across the ocean to a group of eager students was born at the TSPS convention

Dating back to 1893, Wuhan University offers over 756 degree programs for students and is considered to be a world-class comprehensive research university domestically and internationally. It is equivalent to an Ivy League University in the United States. Wuhan University’s School of Geodesy and Geomatics is well respected in the Asian academia circle and has over 2,700 students enrolled.  It offers bachelor, master, and PhD degrees in surveying and mapping related studies.  Dr. Ruizhi Chen, formerly endowed chair and professor of Texas A&M Corpus Christi Geographic Information Science, has moved back to China.  He is currently the Director and Professor at the Key State Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping, and Remote Sensing at Wuhan University.

In December, 2016 Sarah Yang, R.P.L.S., Dr. Gary Jeffress, R.P.L.S., and Dr. Guoqing Zhou of Texas A&M Corpus Christi arrived in the City of Wuhan.  It is the most populous city in central China with a population of over 10 million people.  The dynamic trio spent time informing students on surveying in the United States, the unique aspect of Texas surveying, licensing requirements, and the education and career opportunities available in the United States. The purpose of their trip was to build a collaborative education relationship between the two universities. The two professors explained the need for qualified Chinese educated surveyors and geospatial scientists to join the Texas A&M Corpus Christi master and PhD programs.      

Sarah, speaking in her native tongue, offered the students first-hand experience on life in the United States.  She recalled her experience at Wuhan University and discussed her immigration to Texas and adapting to a completely different language and culture.  She also talked with students about her first surveying job, a day in the life of a professional surveyor in the United States, and surveying Texas style. Sarah explained the process of obtaining professional license and various surveying career paths available to graduating students. Students were eager to learn more about the possibilities and intrigued by the difference in surveying in China versus the United States. She took time to discuss the Texas land system, measuring units in the United States, surveying regulations, and the State Plane Coordinate System, all which differ from surveying in China.

Dr. Gary Jeffress, R.P.L.S. and Dr. Guoqing Zhou spoke to students in an organized lecture to promote the graduate program at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. The professors discussed ongoing research at the University and the different degree programs available. They also educated students on the various career paths available after graduation from the Geographic Information Science Program at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.


“My trip back to Wuhan University, after graduating 25 years ago, was very exciting and rewarding. The City had changed tremendously and the infrastructure had been improved and transformed into a more modern and busy metropolitan area. I was surprised by the School Of Geodesy and Geomatics proactive approach to connect itself with universities from all over the world.  The school hosts lectures and workshops to provide students with the most up-to-date information on technology and opportunities. In addition, the school works diligently to recruit the finest scholars and professors to join their university. The students we interacted with were eager to learn about surveying in Texas and showed passion and ability for expanding their knowledge in their field. This entire trip was rewarding to not only the students but also for me, and Drs. Gary Jeffress and Guoging Zhou.” said Sarah Yang, RPLS. 

This trip to China to promote Texas surveying was a success and very beneficial for both Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and Wuhan University. The students and faculty members at Wuhan University had a unique opportunity to hear and see Texas surveying from well-respected professors, two Texas R.P.L.S.’s, and a classmate returning from overseas. Surveying education is universal without boundary lines.