Understand How Land Surveying Devices Work from Civil Engineers

Learn the basics of land surveying and the importance of a theodolite in this video from Practical Engineering on YouTube.

Before ground can be broken on a civil engineering project, one critical step has to take place. The land has to be surveyed. In this video from YouTube channel Practical Engineering, get an up-close look into just how important the survey process is to engineers and exactly what land surveying technology can do.

"Conventional measurement tools like a tape measure and protractor don't work for large civil structures and public works projects," said host Grady. "Surveying is essentially the science of measuring big stuff... Humans have always had a penchant for building big stuff which means surveying is a career full of history and tradition."

One of the biggest tools used for surveying is a theodolite. It measures the angle between two points on a particular section of land. It is probably the equipment that is most associated with land surveying; it's that device on a tripod that seems like it landed there to probe from another planet. However, theodolites play critical roles in gathering data. That process has become exponentially easier since the industry has shifted from the analog devices to more modern digital ones (aka total stations). 

Grady even gives tips on how someone could survey their land and get the general topography of something like their backyard or front lawn. While land surveying has gotten significantly easier thanks to technology, it is still no less important for civil engineering. 

Main image by Hugo Chisholm/Flickr

Understand How Land Surveying Devices Work from Civil Engineers 

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