Home 2016 Archive Professor McHugh provides hands-on experience for students

Professor McHugh provides hands-on experience for students

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photo courtesy of KACI ALVAREZ

by KACI ALVAREZ
Staff Writer 

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) students accompanied their Hydrographic Surveying professor, Christopher McHugh, on a surveying trip of the bay on Saturday April 9, 2016.

The students were able to get hands on experience with hydrographic surveying, the science of measurement and description of features which affect maritime navigation, marine construction, dredging and offshore oil exploration, as they learned how to map the bottom of the bay’s floor, using professional equipment with the help of local, independent, client-based surveying company, TerraSond Limited. TerraSond Limited delivers “innovative, reliable geospatial solutions with a strong company-wide culture in HSE/Q.”

“Getting these students out on the water using the instruments and having them apply what they learned in the classroom to actual data collection is vital for the learning process,” McHugh said.

According to McHugh, the shipping industry’s revenue is well over $500 billion per year and Corpus Christi’s revenue alone is around $85 million per year.

Without properly trained hydrographers shipping industries could not safely bring their ships into port and risk running aground due to bottom sediment changes. The goal is to show the students that there are large consequences when one does a poor job in the field and that their work does in fact matter a great deal.

The students got the chance to get insight on what being a hydrographer really is in case they want to pursue it as a career after obtaining their degree in GIS.

McHugh is also a FIG/IHO Cat. A Survey Technician for TerraSond Limited and provided the boat, safety and survey equipment for the students, with the help from his colleague, Billy.

McHugh wants his students to have complete understanding of sonar theory, specifically Multibeam, as well as the proper hydrographic survey specifications, planning and acquisition once his course is complete and believes this trip was a valuable asset to that.

Bryan Gillis, senior GIS major, suggested the trip to his professor at the beginning of the semester in order to get hands-on experience.

“What I took away from being on the boat was how the software was able to process the raw data collected by the Multibeam sonar at a near real time rate, giving us a graphic image of the boating channel,” Gillis said.

Gillis said getting hands-on experience was the best part about the hydrographic surveying trip because it allowed him to really jump right into it instead of sitting in a classroom and learning about the theory of it.

McHugh and TerraSond Limited want the students to learn the correct way to acquire the scientific data sets used for charting to ensure the future of the hydrographer’s work will be correct and accurate so everyone can avoid tragic grounding accidents. McHugh believes the trip was a huge success.

“First, I think everyone had a really fun time. And second, I believe everyone got a real good sense of what it is that we do and what it entails,” McHugh said. “Lastly and most importantly, I feel everyone now can connect the theory they have been learning in class with the applied instrumentation, enabling them to achieve a better comprehension.”

For more information on hydrographic surveying, TerraSond Limited, or how it affects the world, visit http://www.terrasond.com/.

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