Garmin donation provides civil engineering students with hands-on learning
Thanks to a donation from Garmin, students in Carlos Sun’s Civil Engineering 3100 course took class work to the streets.
The navigation company, based in Olathe, Kan., provided seven of its Garmin Rino 130 GPS devices for use in a route surveying project designed by teaching assistants Ginger Rossy and Clay Keller.
The Rinos are handheld GPS navigators and two-way radios. Users can store up to 500 locations by saving elevation points. Rossy and Keller’s project served as an intermediary between concepts in topography and a notoriously difficult geometric design project.
“In previous semesters, the comments on evaluations said students wanted a clear understanding of [geometric design] before doing the project,” Rossy said.
The geometric design project requires students to develop plans for new roads. Rossy said the Garmin surveying assignment helped them visualize what that map would look like.
“Students seemed to like it,” Keller said. “They could actually get out and do something in the field; it’s not just listening to theory.”
The class took the Rinos to Champion Drive to map a quarter-mile section between the intersections at Providence Road and Mick Deaver Memorial Drive. Student groups had to collect enough points to accurately display the road, fire hydrants, signs and entrances to parking lots.
“They caught on very quickly,” Keller said. “Before I even finished explaining [the Rino] they had a grasp on it and were already running around and talking.”
“We were happy to be outside, even in the cold weather,” Rossy added. “We had a great time that day.”
For every point, the Rino recorded latitude, longitude, elevation and time of day. The data was transferred from the GPS to a computer with simple software Rossy and Keller downloaded free online. Students then modeled an intersection using a simulation program, eventually creating a detailed map of the street using AutoCAD.
Rossy said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the Garmin donation.
“With our time frame, no,” she said. “They would have needed a whole surveying class.”
“In my B.A., it was three topographic courses before geometric design,” Rossy said. “This was those three courses together. We are definitely grateful.”
Garmin supports 10 scholarships for the College of Engineering, in addition to giving donations.
“Our relationship with Garmin is awesome,” said Greg Cecil, director of development and corporate relations for the College of Engineering. “Our graduates are well-prepared because they had the opportunity to learn with the latest technology.”
Stacy Walker, a college recruiter for Garmin, said the company was pleased to provide the devices. “A number of our current associates are alumni of the University of Missouri, so it’s always nice for us to give something back,” she said.