Workshop Program: Practical State Plane Coordinates For Land Surveyors and Civil Engineers


This is a seven (7.0) hour workshop that teaches land surveyors and civil engineers how to make practical use of state plane coordinates. It provides a good summary of important principles of geodesy an shares tips for working with state plane coordinates on actual projects.

Morning Session

In the morning session of the workshop you will learn about the basic concepts of geodesy. This includes understanding the ellipsoid, the geoid, and different types of heights (or elevations). It also includes learning about horizontal datums, vertical datums, and map projections. The morning session concludes by tying together all the parts of an Earth surface coordinate reference system and talks about how a survey datum is “realized” on the ground.

Afternoon Session

In the afternoon session of the workshop you’ll learn about the history and motivation for state plane coordinates. You’ll identify the benefits of working with state plane coordinates. We will also teach you how the concepts from the morning session are brought together in a state plane coordinate system. The afternoon session concludes with a practical discussion of how state plane coordinates are used on actual projects, how they are regulated in law, and how to avoid common pitfalls when working with state plane coordinates.

What You Will Learn

  1. The different types of heights or elevations.

  2. The 4 parts of an Earth surface coordinate reference system.

  3. How a survey datum is “realized” on the ground.

  4. The difference between NAD27/NAVD88/WGS84 and their relationship to GRS80.

  5. The different tradeoffs made when choosing or designing a map projection.

Teacher Bio

Landon has practiced as a licensed land surveyor in Central California and Western Nevada for 15 years. He was taught by one of the best practical geodetic surveyors in the Western United States and has created survey control system for many large public works projects. He has also helped local government agencies design and maintain survey control systems.

Landon believes many land surveyors misunderstand and misuse RTK and GNSS because they don’t have a solid understanding of GIS and state plane coordinates. He feels that education on the relationship between geodesy, state plane coordinates, and GNSS surveying is a key way to solve this problem.

Landon Blake Business Portrait

Workshop Outline

  1. Basic Principles of Geodesy For State Plane Coordinates
  2. The 4 Parts of an Earth Surface Coordinate Reference System
  3. State Plane Coordinates – Why and How
  4. Bringing All The Parts Together – Making State Plane Coordinates Work
  5. Practical State Plane Coordinates
  6. State Plane Coordinates and the Land Surveying Profession

Workshop Questions

The workshop will answer these questions:

  1. When should I use state plane coordinates?
  2. How do I select a combined scale factor?
  3. What quality control measures do I need for state plane coordinates?
  4. What are my equipment and software doing with state plane coordinates?
  5. What type of distances does my total station actually measure?
  6. What type of distances does my GNSS receiver measure?
  7. What is my data collector doing to my distances/coordinates?
  8. What is my CAD software doing to my distances and coordinates?
  9. What do I need to teach my field crews about state plane coordinates?
  10. How do I properly mix GNSS and total station observations?
  11. How do I calculate NAVD 88 elevations? They aren’t on any datasheets.
  12. When do I need to use multiple scale factors on a project?
  13. How does the use of state plane coordinates affect my basis-of-bearing statement on a boundary survey map?

Workshop Exercises

The workshop will include the following exercises:

  1. Calculating NAVD 88 elevations from an NGS datasheet.
  2. Creating and QA/QC process for field crews and state plane coordinates.
  3. Examining sample map notes.

Price for the Morning Session

The morning session of this workshop is free. However, audience members attending the morning session are asked to make a donation to the Terry Hayden Memorial Scholarship. The minimum suggested donation amount is $49. Please register for the workshop first, and then make your donation on the Terry Hayden Memorial Scholarship using our form. You must register online to attend the morning session. This allows us to e-mail you information for the workshop and to ensure we have enough bandwidth for everyone to stream the program.

Price for the Afternoon Session

The cost to attend the afternoon session of the workshop is $149. This price includes an attendance certificate. It also gives you the option to have us help track your professional development hours. Register for the workshop using our simple form, and you will be e-mailed a link to pay for the workshop fee. If you would like to be mailed an invoice instead of paying the workshop fee online with a credit card, send Landon an e-mail. We can prepare and mail you an invoice. (The invoice must be paid 1 week before the date of the workshop.)

Professional Development Hours

You should be able to count 3.5 hours of professional development for the morning session of the workshop and 3.5 hours for the afternoon session of the workshop. This is a total of 7 hours for both sessions. (Please check with your licensing board or certifying authority on the eligibility of this workshop for your specific continuing education requirements.) If you attend both sessions and pay for the afternoon session, we will send you an attendance certificate for both the morning and afternoon session.

Date, Time and Location

This workshop isn’t currently scheduled.

Take This Training As An Online Course

This training is offered as an online course for individuals and groups. Certification of course completion is available. If you would like to take this training as an online course, or would like us to offer an online course to your team, please reach out to Landon Blake by e-mail.

Customize This Training For Your Organization

Redefined Horizons can customize this training to meet the specific needs of your organization. We can add or remove topics, craft examples from your practice, and design systems to measure team member learning. If you are interested in customizing this training for your organization, please reach out to Landon Blake by e-mail.

About the Terry Hayden Memorial Scholarship

The morning session of this workshop supports the Terry Hayden Memorial Scholarship.

Terry Hayden was a very important part of the land surveying community in Central California. He founded his company, Aerial Photomapping Services, in 1987. He was a member of the American Society For photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, California Land Surveyors Association, American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, ACEC California, and the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors. Terry also held a Registered Photogrammetrist License with the State of Oregon.

Under Terry’s guidance APS developed a reputation as a high-quality photogrammetry and remote sensing service provider. He was a key business partner of land surveying and civil engineering firms throughout the California Central Valley. The quality of Terry’s photogrammetric work was second-to-none, and he was a good friend to many of his clients.

Terry was also involved in commercial art, graphic arts, and fine art photography. His black-and-white photography is in private and public art collections around the United States. He taught photography at the Wadsworth Athenuem in Hartford, Connecticut and at the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford.

Host This Workshop

Would you like to host this workshop at your organization or in your community? Redefined Horizons teaches workshops across the Western United States. If you are interested in hosting this talk, please contact Landon Blake by e-mail.

We can offer the course at a discount for members of your organization or support a local scholarship of your choice if you host the workshop.

Related Workshops

Landon teaches several other workshops on business for land surveyors and civil engineers. These workshops include:

Learn about these and other workshops on the Redefined Horizons Talks and Workshops web page.

Subscribe to Our Business Newsletter

Landon Blake, the owner of Redefined Horizons, publishes a regular newsletter named “On Point” with articles on business strategy, management of human talent, and business operations. The newsletter has content designed specifically for land surveyors, civil engineers, and GIS professionals. We publish the free newsletter under a Creative Commons license. Visit our Subscribe page if you would like to sign-up to receive a copy of the newsletter.