Professor P. C. Nwilo B.Sc., M.Sc. (Lagos) Ph.D. (Salford) Head

1.1.      History of the Department

The Department of Surveying and Geoinformatics (Formerly known as Department of Surveying), started as a sub-department of Civil Engineering Department in 1970. The initial programme of the sub-department at the time was a two-year postgraduate course of studies and research leading to an M.Sc. (Surveying) degree. Graduates in fields cognate to surveying were admitted into the programme.

In October 1973, a full-fledged Department of Surveying was established. The first set of undergraduate students in surveying were admitted in October 1974. Today” the Department also runs postgraduate programmes leading to the M.Sc. M.Phil and Ph.D degrees in Surveying and Geoinformatics as well as Master of Geoinformatics (Executive programme).

Prior to the establishment of the sub-department, four final year students, who in September 1966 withdrew from University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as a result of civil disturbances in the country, were absorbed by the Department of Civil Engineering, of University of Lagos to complete their degree programme in surveying by special arrangement with the Federal Surveys Department. The students graduated with B.Sc. Degree in Surveying in 1967.

The discipline of Surveying has grown rapidly in the last half of this century. First, it was the surveying and mapping requirements of the Second World War which led to the development of aerial survey techniques, known as photogrammetry, which in turn revolutionized mapping methods. Also, there was a tremendous development in the field of electronics, which made possible a revolution in distance measuring methods leading to the introduction of a new family of equipment. And recently, particularly in the last 15-20 years, the advances made in computer and information technology as well as space techniques have again greatly influenced survey methods, both in data acquisition, processing and management. New instrumentation such as the total station, digital level, electronic field books, the global positioning system (GPS), the analytical plotters and digital mapping equipment, etc have emerged. When the new instrumentation in surveying is combined with the availability of high speed computers with large storage capacities, new processing and management methods have emerged, making geoinforrnatics, remote sensing techniques and digital mapping methods increasingly important and popular. These developments dictate the­ direction of growth of the science of Surveying and Geoinformatics, shifting the emphasis from mere data acquisition to include data storage, retrieval, manipulation and management.

In view of the above, it became incumbent on the department to review its programme in order to align its curriculum with the new developments in the Surveying field. The trend elsewhere is that many Department of Surveying overseas have not only reviewed their programmes, but had also changed the names of their departments to Geomatics, Geoinformatics or Geomatic Engineering as the case may be, so as to reflect these developments.

The need to change the name of the department, which it had been identified with for many years, is partly due to the very narrow interpretation given the term “surveying” by the general public and the resulting difficulties in students’ recruitment, and partly to reflect the tremendous impact the advances in technology and modern techniques has had on the surveying profession. The first concerted effort at realizing this goal was made at a Faculty Board of Studies meeting in 1996/97 session, in which many names were proposed.

At several departmental meetings, this issue was hotly debated while members often suggested names in line with their leanings. However, the department was able to arrive at a unanimous decision on this issue at a departmental meeting held on 15th January 1998. The name adopted is “Surveying and Geoinformatics”. The name Surveying and Geoinformatics portrays a discipline that deals with acquisition, analysis storage, distribution, management and application of spatially-referenced data.

The Surveyor, as defined and produced at the University of Lagos is a professional and a geoscientist well equipped to provide spatial and other environmental information necessary for designing and planning of engineering works as well as in the location and exploitation of natural resources. His excellent background in computer science, mathematics and physics, gives him added confidence to tackle problems of diverse nature. He is given comprehensive training in Geomatics which include inter alia Land Surveying, Geodesy, Hydrography, Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing, Cartography and Geoinformatics.