Topographic Engineering

Career Objectives

Provide information on the surface of an area to be used in different topics.

Professional Profile

-Professional who obtains and processes information about the surface shape of a land and then represents it on a scale through topographic and geodetic plans. This information is fundamental in territorial knowledge and in the planning and construction of any engineering work.

It covers land of great extensions where the Earth’s curvature is considered (geodetic plans) but as if the Earth were completely spherical (not its real ellipsoidal form), and also land of little extension where the curvature of the Earth can be disregarded. -Both in land surveys for engineering projects, where the degree of accuracy obtained remains within the permissible margins from the practical point of view.

Specific tasks or activities carried out in the profession

-He participates by contributing and applying territorial information in the planning, design, construction and control phases of:

*Infrastructure works for buildings, bridges, tunnels, channels, irrigation works, dams, drainage systems, drinking water supply systems (aqueducts), wastewater disposal (sewerage).

-Mining works, proposing the connections between tunnels and guiding their execution and during the operations in mines, helping to establish the exact location of works underground vertically and horizontally. *Demarcation as definition of boundaries of privately and publicly owned land; urban and rural land distribution (partitions); surface location and limits of a *mining concession.

Geographical precision determinations, designed to set the position and orientation of isolated land points.

-The design and layout of communications routes, with estimation of earthmoving. *Hydrographic surveys to measure erosion and manage *dredging projects, for hydrographic surveys to explore oil resources and mineral deposits and to determine hazards underwater.

Drawings of communication routes, such as highways, railways, airports, channels, telephone lines, *gas pipelines, *oil pipelines, *aqueducts and power transmission lines.

And many other activities related to geology, landscape architecture, archeology, etc.

He studies, plans, directs, executes and inspects *land surveys.

He performs the necessary activities or operations to carry out a topographic survey, where:

He makes the recognition of the territorial space and its characteristics. He selects the instruments and equipment to be used.

He determines the procedures and operations of the work to determine the location and measurements of the piece of land.

He is in charge of the measurements of the land’s surface, in which first, control points are established geometrically, which will be the reference points by which other points of the terrain will be determined, indicating their distance, elevation and direction. In the data collection, measurement instruments are used such as the combined use of *GPS with a *Total station.

He verifies the information collected in the field in an objective manner.

With the information from the data collection, he determines the positions of the points in three-dimensional coordinates. He determines height difference, since with the coordinates of two points he can calculate the distances or the difference between the same points, etc.

In all this, he calculates surfaces, perimeters, alignments, locations and volumes. This is where he makes use of geometry, trigonometry and algebra.

He carries out the representation of the land and its characteristics in a scale topographic drawing.

For that, he starts from the same control points used in the original topographic surveys to capture the horizontal location and altitudes of relevant points of the land, accidents, details of its surface and the description of elements present in the place such as walls, buildings, streets, rivers, roads, forests, etc. All the information will be necessary for the design of structures that will be built on it.

In the making of the topographic drawing, he uses conventional symbols and standards previously regulated to represent natural and artificial objects of the land.

He uses software to make topographic maps.

He carries out leveling and earthmoving.

He directs the “layout” process which consist in interpreting civil work plans to locate and express the aspects represented in it in the terrain, such as the location of the boundaries of the construction, where the foundations are placed, establish the control points from where the location of elements such as columns and partitions will be taken, etc.

Once the work is developed, the construction engineer can ask the topographer for a “state of the work”, which consist in performing a data collection in the field, to verify if it is being built within the specified precision.

He writes reports related to the work undertaken.

He carries out geodesic surveys that are surveys for large areas, where topographical measurements consider the basic shape of the Earth, the geoid (almost spherical). -For instance, for the design of a road of many kilometers.

He applies physical and mathematical formulas and calculations and manages specialized computing in the acquisition, processing, analysis and representation of topographical information.

He performs interpretation of aerial and satellite imagery of the shape and structure of the terrain. He carries out *photogrammetric surveys where he uses the photographs to obtain maps.

He uses *aerial photogrammetry for the survey of mountain areas where access is difficult; in the study of traffic, ports and *urbanism; in the survey of road traffic accidents, etc.

He carries out *satellite surveys using satellite imagery to determine the position of locations in a territory or for the measurement and mapping of large surfaces on land.

He takes part in projects for the assessment of natural resources: forestry, mining and others.

He performs topographic expert’s reports in judicial matters, *demarcation and the division of areas according to possession for their *deed registration.

He handles regulations inherent to the profession, such as laws, standards and specifications that allow him to develop his activity in accordance with what has already been established.

He participates in the development of the *land registry for regional and local planning studies.

Occupational Field

-Construction Companies for civil, *hydraulic, health, port, earthmoving, construction and *urbanism works.

-Mining Companies

-Agricultural Companies

-Sanitation Companies (Drinking water and sewerage systems)

-Electrical Companies (Power lines, telephone lines)

-Forest Companies

-Railway Companies

-Geology Companies

-In organizations devoted to road infrastructure, urban planning, and public works in general, urban and rural spatial planning.

-In organizations devoted to expropriation of real estate or sale of state properties, massive or specific appraisals of real estate, etc.

-Topographical services Companies

-Commercial Companies selling topographic devices.

-National Geographic Institute



-Universities in teaching and research

-Vocational Training Institutions

-Professional service delivery as advisor or consultant in the topographic area.

Estimated time of College years

5 years

Main courses considered in the program

Basic Sciences Courses

*Mathematics (4 semesters)

*Descriptive Geometry

*Physics (2 semesters)


*Computer Science

-Technical Drawing

Professional Training Courses

*Fundamentals of Geography and Geology

*Topography (4 semesters)

Topography Workshop (2 semesters)

Topographic Drawings

*Applied Computing

*Geographic Information Systems

*Statistics (2 semesters)


*Photo interpretation

*Remote Sensing




*Basic Hydraulics

*Soil Mechanics


*Construction Site Control

Risk Analysis

*Environmental Assessment


*Cadastre and *Spatial Planning

*Topographic Legislation

Complementary Training Courses

General Administration

*Project Development and Evaluation

Human Resources Management

Accounting, Costs and Budgets

*Real Estate Appraisal


Traditional Topography, *Photogrammetry, *Geodesy and Topography, *Hydrography, *Urbanism, *Cadastre and *Spatial Planning.

Vocation, Skills and Interests required in the candidate to this career


-Motivation for developing projects aimed at construction.

-Interest in the application of Mathematics, Geometry and taste for developing graphs.

-Motivation for graphic design.

-Taste for quantifying, schematizing and recording.

-Motivation for the use of technology, manipulation of precision instruments.

-Attraction to geography.

-Preference for fieldwork.

-Taste for planning, organizing, estimating and performing arrangements to carry out an activity.


-Mathematical Skill

*Analysis and *Synthesis ability

-Spatial Location

-Visual acuity

-Fine motor skills

-Health compatible to perform fieldwork.

-Ability to create practical solutions.

-Ability to integrate work teams.


Seek the development and welfare of the community by doing practical things that meet their needs. -Desire to build for the production of goods and services, always dreaming of new ways of doing things better.

Or any specific dream or longing which feels involved or oriented towards this direction.

Candidate Personality




Practical and functional personality

Ease to deal with people with different training, criteria and personality.

Availability to work as a team

Work Scope

Fieldwork and Office work

Related Careers

-Topography Technology, Engineering *Geodesy, *Photogrammetric Engineering.

Glossary of Terms

*Aqueduct: Construction that works to carry water.

*Analysis: Decompose what is studied in its basic parts, to then see the relationship between those parts.

*Bathymetry: Measurement of underwater depth of the ocean floor.

*Calculus, *Differential Equations: Part of mathematics that takes charge of the dynamic factors of reality, dealing with concepts like derivatives and antiderivatives (or integral), where the derivative of a function gives the notion of how quickly a function grows (or decreases) at a certain point.

*Cartography: Technique that studies different methods or systems that allow representing a part or the whole earth’s surface in a map.

*Cadastre: It is the inventory or registry of real estate, public or private, urban or rural of a territory or country in its physical, legal and appraising aspects; that will support planning processes for *sustainable development.

*Kinematics: Study of the bodies in motion; that is, the study of their trajectory as a function of time.

*Concession: It is when the company grants another one the right to exploit some goods or services, for a specific time.

*Construction Site Control: *Infrastructure control of Civil Works such as transport, drinking water, wastewater, electrification, etc.

*Applied Computing: Use of computer systems to solve Topographic and Geodetic Engineering problems.

*Sustainable Development: Development pursued by economic growth without neglecting the preservation of environmental quality and social equality.

*Demarcation: Clarification of the boundaries of a land.

*Technical Drawing: Knowledge and drawing techniques in the development of graphic material.

*Dredging: It is the operation of cleaning sediments from riverbeds, lakes, bays, accesses to ports to increase the depth of a navigation channel in order to increase water transport capacity, thus avoiding flooding. Moreover, this is intended to increase the draft of these areas to facilitate shipping by them without prejudice to ships, avoiding the risk of grounding.

*Deed Registration: Deed: Document that represents the right a person has on a piece of land.

*Total Station: It is an electronic-optical device which functioning is based on electronic technology. It has a built-in distance and slope meter, a vertical and horizontal angle meter and a microprocessor.

*Statistics: It is the mathematical study of processes which answer is not possible to determine with accuracy (random processes).

*Statistics (Course): Concepts, methodology and techniques of the subject.

*Environmental Assessment: Preservation of natural resources. Study of the environmental impact focused on evaluating the effects of Civil Engineering works on ecological systems.

*Project Evaluation: Stages in the formulation and preparation of projects of a general nature. –Basic fundamentals of economic assessment of projects. – Techniques for control and coordination of mapping projects.

*Physics: *Kinematics, Work and Energy. –Force field. –Gravity. –Movement in a force field. –Concepts and basic laws of fluid behavior. –Characteristics of waves. –Nature and Propagation of Light. –Fundamental laws of optics. –Basic laws of electromagnetism. –Electromagnetic wave propagation. –Concepts and basic laws of photometry. –Physical principles of the measurements of distances using electromagnetic waves. –Physical principles of the electronic measurement of angles. –Alignment and leveling based on lasers. –Handling of experimental instruments. –Optical systems for the study of photographic techniques and the use of observation instruments. –Theories, laws and essential means of Acoustics for its application to engineering problems.

*Photogrammetry: Technique that allows us to make reliable measurements of the land using photographs.

*Photo interpretation: Technique of study and analysis of aerial photographs. -Interpretation of the area of land from frames.

* Fundamentals of Geography and Geology (Course): It studies the natural geographical space. -The land relief, its evolution and current dynamics. -The behavior of different physical elements such as the atmosphere (meteorology, climatology); water (hydrology, oceanography); rocks (geology); soil; vegetation. –Composition, structure and evolution of the Earth. –Materials that constitute it. –External processes that affect the morphology of the earth’s surface to identify the effects they produce and their possible control.

*Gas pipeline: Pipe to convey combustible gas at distance.

*Geodetic: *Geodesy: Mathematical science that determines the exact position of points on the earth’s surface, the shape and magnitude of large areas of its surface, where it is necessary to consider the curvature of the Earth.

*Analytical Geometry: It is the one that deals with geometrical problems through graphs with the use of coordinates. -This is achieved by transforming them into algebraic problems for analysis.

*Descriptive Geometry: Geometric study that defines the position of a point through the height and projection of it in a horizontal plane.

*Geomorphology: Part of geography that explains the forms of the land relief, its evolution and current dynamics. –The behavior of different physical elements such as the atmosphere (meteorology, climatology), water (hydrology, oceanography), rocks (geology); soil, vegetation.

*GPS: Abbreviation for Global Positioning Systems. It is a satellite positioning system that allows knowing the position of an object or person with an error margin of centimeters.

*Hydraulics: Branch of physics and engineering that studies the behavior of fluids.

*Basic Hydraulics: Fundamental equations of *Hydraulics. –Problems of liquids at rest and permanent flow in simple hydraulic structures and pipe networks.

*Hydrographic: *Hydrography: Measurement and description of the physical features of the earth underneath oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and their adjacent coastal regions.

*Computer Science: Methodologies to carry out the analysis and design of programs. –Structured programming, word processor, spreadsheets and database management, that will allow the student to use the computer as a tool for the solution of problems related to engineering.

*Infrastructure: Earth work (such as an embankment or earth fill) on which a platform is built to support the building.

*Topographic Legislation: Laws inherent to the Topographic Engineering professional. -Procedures to be followed for the application of these provisions.

*Survey: It is to represent a place on paper graphically, with all surface accidents.

*Photogrammetric Surveys: Photogrammetric surveys comprise the data collection and accurate measurements from photographs of the terrain taken with special cameras or other sensing instruments, either from airplanes (aerial photogrammetry) or from high points of land (terrestrial photogrammetry).

*Mathematics (Course): Geometry and *Analytical Geometry, Algebra, Plane and Spherical Trigonometry, *Calculus, *Differential Equations.

*Soil Mechanics: Study of soil conditions as support element of the construction and its foundations.

*Oil pipeline: Pipe to carry oil at distance.

*Remote Sensing: Acquisition of information about the properties of a territory using instruments that are not in direct contact with it, but usually on board an airplane or a satellite.

*Remote Sensing (Course): Methods and instruments used in Remote Sensing. –Data collection of aerial photographs, scanned images and information obtained by remote sensors.

*Spatial Planning: Discipline whose objective is the study of the rational occupation of the territory.

*Chemistry: Materials Technology.

*Synthesis: Mental operations that consists in reducing an accumulation of diverse data in one that represents them as a whole. –Summary.

* Geographic Information Systems (GIS): A Geographic Information System is software design to receive, store, manipulate, analyze and display information with reference to its geographic location.

*Geographic Information Systems (Course): How Geographic Information Systems are formed. -Their functioning for the analysis and interpretation of the geographical space, its utility, application and exploitation.

*Topography: Interpretation of the surface of a land from a geometrical point of view, determining the position of elements and phenomena existing in it as well as the relations between them. –Besides, the use of tools and instruments for the application of different measurements, the subsequent information processing and its graphic representation are part of the subject.

*Topography (Course): Measurement methods, calculations and fundamental procedures for land surveying, for the development and interpretation of topographic maps. -Use of aerial photographs in the identification of morphological features and construction details. –Determination of heights, altitudes and distances by means of instruments and the expression of these values in a graphic or numerical form. –Topographic methods. –Determination of coordinates. –Lie of the land. –Determination of volumes. –Theory of errors: presence of errors inherent in all kinds of measurements. –Necessary procedures to remove them when possible in the results.

*Trigonometry: Part of mathematics that studies angles, triangles and the relations between them.

*Urbanism: Construction of service infrastructure such as: sewerage, drinking water, electrification, paving, transport, etc.

*Real Estate Appraisal: Specific methods that intervene in the valuation, commercialization, legal and technical operation concerning real estate property.