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acquire this ability of solving all such problems by drawings, requires not only a training in the manipulation of drawing tools, but also a mental training in the reading and understanding of plans.
The use and adjustment of the ordinary field instruments should be thoroughly taught. This should include the aneroid, altazimuth, pocket compass, surveyor's compass, transit, level, solar attachment, and plane table. The capabilities of each instrument should be thoroughly understood together with their construction and adjustments, and sufficient field practice given to allow the student to not only know how to use them, but to be able to use them rapidly and accurately.
There should be sufficient practice given in land surveying to enable the student to have a working familiarity with all its details. In railway location some time, but not too much, should be devoted to the theory, while the details of actual work should be thoroughly taught. The graduate is not expected to be able to select the best line for a railway between any two points, and establish the grades, etc., but when he has the general direction and position of the line given him, with the limiting curves and grades, he should be able, without further instruction, to put that line on the ground and make a plan and profile of it.
In order to do this in a satisfactory manner he must have actually done this class of work before under careful instruction as to the work required, the data to be obtained, and the detailed methods of obtaining this data.
The location of the line is followed by topographical work Then the final adjustment of the line to the ground, the setting of the slope stakes, and the estimating of the amount of material to be moved, and masonry, etc., to be built. This should be worked out in all its details during the four years' course. The instructor in field practice should remember that his object should be not to give the student a superficial idea of a great many things, but such a thorough drill in the actual details of such points as he does take up, that when the student goes into actual work the methods to be employed in elementary practice have become to a certain extent automatic, and no thought is required excepting as to the ultimate results to be obtained. If necessary, let the field instruction cover less ground, but have the details that are taken up thoroughly drilled into the student. As an example of the error which in the writer's opinion is made in many of our engineering schools, in which he believes most engineers on maintenance of way will bear him out, is the fact that the average graduate during the first year of his work has perfect confidence in his ability to calculate the strains and make the detail drawings for the most complicated frame structure, while it is utterly impossible for him to locate correctly a side track and stake out the position of a frog. What should be done is to devote more time to advanced theory and elementary practice, and less time to so-called advanced practice.
The student should also receive sufficient instruction in the use of the various standard testing machines as to render the different methods of testing the materials, of engineering construction familiar to him. This laboratory instruction should be given in connection with the lectures upon these materials, and he should be taught not only the manipulation of the machines and the methods of testing material, but should also be sufficiently familiar with the nature and use of the different materials to know for what properties each should be tested.
In regard to the amount of time necessary for this practical instruction, much depends upon the instructor. But with very few exceptions, much mere time is devoted to this class of work than there is any need of. There are two reasons for this: first-a catering to the public cry for so-called practical instruction, and the fact that the students are much more enthusiastic in this field work than in purely theoretical work; and, secondly-it would seem that an unnecessary amount of field practice is sometimes given students from the fact that such work requires no preparation on the part of the instructor, and he is therefore tempted to increase the time devoted to work that more or less consists of manual dexterity at the expense of the more advanced theory. The following allotment of time has been found sufficient in the writer's experience and it probably could be shortened to advantage.
The use and adjustments of the various surveying instruments, not including the plane table, in the spring of the freshman year. Land surveying in the fall term of the sophomore year. Mapping of the notes during the winter, and topographical work and use of the plane table in the spring. Railway location in the fall term, junior year, with the preliminary plans and profiles. The final plans, profiles, estimates, etc., during the winter, together with lectures on railway construction and materials of construction; with railway yard work in the spring.
As to the number of hours per week that can be devoted to this work, the writer has found that four hours each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, and eight hours on Saturday was amply sufficient. This time does not mean actually sixteen hours per week, as much time in the spring and fall is lost for field work by inclement weather. Any of this field work can be carried on to much greater advantage to the student if it is possible to take the class into camp, on railway location for instance, for two weeks. This, however, is seldom possible during term time, and in the west is impossible during the summer vacation, owing to the fact that the majority of the students are obliged to work during the vacations in order to earn money to pay the expenses of the next term.
In regard to methods of instruction in field work:
We will suppose that the student understands the use and adjustments of the instruments, and to some extent has studied the theory of surveying and elementary field work. In this field practice it is in every way advisable that some definite problem should be given the students to work out in all its details, in order that they may get not only the methods required in each class of work, but also that they may understand the connection that exists between different branches of field work. In surveying the writer has found it a good plan to take a full section of land and have a thorough survey made of it, running the full section lines, the quarter section lines, and then the property lines—the name of each property-owner being taken. Notes should be taken showing the state of cultivation of each piece of ground and when the maps are made all of this should be shown by conventional signs. This surveying is usually done in the fall and the notes are platted during the winter. In the spring, before the leaves are out on the trees, a certain amount of practice should be given in triangulation, and then the section that has been surveyed should be contoured by means of the stadia and plane table. There is ample time to plat all of this topographical work before the close of the school year.
The advantage of confining all this work to one piece of ground is that the students become thoroughly familiar with this section. They can accomplish more work, and work of a better character, than if they are changed from one piece of ground to another. They have a definite object to work for, outside of the mere practice in the different branches of surveying, and know that when the work is finished they will have complete evidence of everything done. In no other way can the standard of work done by students be raised and the amount increased so easily as by so arranging it that the student can see that in the end he will have obtained some tangible results of more or less value, in addition to having obtained the requisite amount of practice.