Writer: Linda Fresques
NMSU surveying engineering professor emeritus Earl F. Burkholder has been presented the 2010 Surveying and Mapping Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers recognizing his “lifetime dedicated to education and to the promotion of surveying engineering.”
Instituted in 1969, the Surveying and Mapping Award recognizes individuals whose contributions advance surveying and mapping either in teaching, writing, research, planning, design, construction or management.
The award cited Burkholder’s “commitment to maintaining the standards of education requirements for surveying engineering accreditation. He has spent many years reaching out to various faculties and association committees for consensus on the minimum level of mathematics needed for an engineering status.”
Burkholder retired this past July from NMSU where he taught a wide range of surveying engineering courses. He received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan in 1973. Following graduation, he worked five years for Commonwealth Associates, an international engineering firm in Jackson, Michigan, that served the utility industry worldwide.
In 1978, he enrolled at Purdue University and received a master’s degree in civil engineering (geodesy) in 1980. From there he went to the Oregon Institute of Technology where he taught surveying courses for 13 years. He left Oregon Tech at the end of 1993 and was a consulting geodetic engineer until he joined the faculty at NMSU in 1998.
During his career, Burkholder defined a comprehensive 3-D global spatial data model that readily accommodates digital spatial data and uses one set of equations worldwide. He published more than 40 papers and articles on the subject. He developed prototype 3-D coordinate geometry software (BURKORD™) and wrote a book, The 3-D Global Spatial Data Model, that was published by CRC Press in 2008.
Burkholder became editor of ASCE’s Journal of Surveying Engineering in 1985 and served a second four-year term starting in 1992. He also worked several years on a joint ASCE/ASPRS/ACSM committee that compiled and published the “Glossary of the Mapping Sciences” in 1994. Between 1995 and 2003 he was involved in Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology activities and served as Chair of the Applied Science Accreditation Commission in 2000/2001. In 2006 he was invited to join the ASCE Geomatics Division Executive Committee where he currently serves as secretary.
Burkholder has presented numerous seminars throughout his career. He was president of the New Mexico Professional Surveyors in 2009. He has been licensed as a Professional Engineer and Professional Surveyor in New Mexico since 2000 and has held similar designations in Ohio, Oregon and Michigan.