From the Editor: The Importance of Mentoring

A 415Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

As you are reading this I will be somewhere between New Hampshire and Hong Kong/China reporting on the Riegl LiDAR 2015 conference. This will be the first time that I will be visiting Southeast Asia. There will be some obvious challenges with communication, but I will be providing updates.

There is a lot going on the week of May 4th including the ASPRS IGTF 2015 in Tampa and the AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2015 conference in Atlanta, Georgia. We will report on the major announcements from all of these events.

I noted in the previous issue that Lewis Graham was calling for making LiDAR technology more useable. This was one of the main themes of this year’s SPAR 2015. For those who were not able to attend here’s a brief recap of this event.

The return of SPAR 2015 to Houston, Texas coincided with record setting attendance and perhaps one of the best events in recent memory. There was no shortage of new technology on display with over 30 first time exhibitors, but I think most people would say that the real value came from the face-to-face networking. Over 1,000 people attended with 15 percent being international representing 26 countries.

There is no question that the background of a strengthening economy makes a difference and although the price of oil has been cut in half Houston was in full construction mode. Everywhere you looked there was a sky crane. Next year the event returns to the Woodlands which most people that I spoke with would have preferred over the downtown location.

The conference got off to a great start with three very complimentary keynotes. The common theme that I found was the idea of ease of use. Ralph Rio, Research Director at ARC Advisory Group noted that the lack of this capability was holding back the industry. Andy Lowery, DAQRI President explained that the success of wearable computers will be driven by the ability of the average worker to make use of them. His research revealed that human error could be virtually eliminated through the use of augmented reality. And Dave Truch, Technology Director, BP noted that the extreme weather and travel restrictions associated with working on the North Slope makes the use of virtualization that everyone can use critical to their profitability.

On the technology front there were a number of product announcements, but most of these fell into the incremental improvement category. Leica Geosystems held an offsite to announce three new scanners. One of the most impressive demos came from Christoph Held, Applications Engineer at Z + F who explained the integration between the new Imager 5010X and their Laser Control Scout software. This impressive combination supports a number of quality control tasks that insure you have all of the data that you need to collect before leaving the field. Topcon and Viametris announced new mobile mapping solutions. The latter is perhaps the most advanced indoor product.

Trimble and DotProduct had one of the major business announcements with Trimble becoming a reseller of the handheld scanners and software. In an interview with Bryan Williams and Chris Ahern both indicated they were very excited about this opportunity which is being initially positioned in the construction market where Trimble is very strong and there is a need for a handheld solution to document as-built conditions. DotProduct gets access to a worldwide distribution channel.

Autodesk hosted an offsite event for the press at the Houston Space Center to reinforce the benefits of Recap in being the conduit for capturing reality and bringing it into the major Autodesk design workflows such as Revit and Civil 3D. It was amazing to see an actual lunar landing module as well as a number of other NASA space vehicles.

On the organizational side Ralph Rio noted much work needs to be done in the area of business process automation (BPA), but as Bill Emison from Merrick observed, "To wit, more companies and presenters insist on discussing other relevant corporate "themes" such as worker safety/productivity, quality of source data (and derivatives!), and improved understanding regarding their return on investment (ROI)."

On a final note I was part of a panel that discussed the issue of certification and licensure for 3D data capture professionals. As one would expect we did not make any breakthroughs, but it certainly is a topic that deserves the industry’s attention.

Just a brief note calling your attention to a very impressive video from Volkswagen reinforcing the idea that the entertainment industry is in the lead when it comes to 3D computer graphics. Laser scanning was used to capture the real world for this creative demonstration. And while we are talking about pushing the envelope have a look at this video from Corning on the "Future of Computing." We will see a lot of that become reality within the next ten years.

The high level contribution of the authors in this issue needs to be recognized. From a review of Geiger-mode LiDAR to an impressive integration of airborne, mobile and static 3D data, to a review of PointCab software and scanning the San Francisco Bay Bridge in five days–which are just a few of the highlights LiDAR News is continuing to receive outstanding support from the industry. We could not exist without your contribution. Please be sure to contact me with your idea for an article.

This leads me to the main theme for this editorial–mentoring, or giving back to the profession. Actually I would like to broaden this topic to include apprentice, intern and assistantships. Our 3D industry needs a formal program for all of these. My son has been very fortunate to have been involved with two very successful internships and he has a third one lined up for June with the Forest Service so I have been able to see the benefits of these programs up close. It’s been a win-win and he has learned a lot about environmental conservation and life.

Obviously this idea ties back to the previous editorial on professional consciousness. As professionals we owe it to our youth to provide them with learning experiences and opportunity. In fact I can’t think of anything more important that we can do. The good news is that no matter the size of your firm or organization you can get involved with one of these programs.

I might be a little late for this year, but I think there is still time to recruit some interns for this summer or to begin mentoring a young member of your organization. If you are already part of one of these programs please send me some success stories so we can get the word out.

I hope to see some of you in China.

Gene Roe, LS, PE, PhD
Managing Editor & Co-Founder
LiDAR News Magazine

A 415Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE