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Understanding first principles


Having taught surveying before my retirement five years ago I would like to support the case Tim Hughes makes for traditional surveying courses (NCE 22/29 August).

In my latter years we used a combination of 1960s theodolites and levels plus modern total stations. The idea was to use the old equipment to give the students a better understanding of what they were doing. Traverses would be reduced and closure errors corrected using no more than a pocket calculator.

Once the students knew what they were doing they were allowed to use the electronic equipment. Computer packages were used only after the calculation had been done by hand. GPS was introduced only to give them a flavour of modern techniques.

The prime purpose of a university education is surely to teach first principles. Skills can be picked up later.

David Naylor (M), D.J.Naylor@swansea. ac. uk

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