Engineering Geodesy

Career Objectives

To develop a mathematical model of the Earth in order to provide a *Geometric Reference System, that serves for multiple purposes.

Professional Profile

-Professional who uses science and engineering for the measurement and mathematical description of the size and shape of the Earth or a large part of it.

This mathematical description of the Earth allows the precise location of points in its surface and works as a basis on which other activities will be supported, such as the dimensions in the *Topography field, the *cartographic and *cadastral development, *Geographic Information Systems and scientific studies that require it.

Specific tasks or activities carried out in the profession

He establishes a Cartesian coordinate system to define, through coordinates, points throughout the entire surface of the Earth, that make up a “geodetic network” or *Global Reference Frame, which will work as reference in the construction of topographic, *hydrographic, *geophysical works, and in the creation of *Cartography.

He performs the *survey and global and partial representation of the Earth, determining its shape and dimensions. These *surveys consider the true ellipsoidal shape of the planet (not flat or spherical as it is considered for smaller areas), and where high accuracy is required.

He carries out the design and implementation of *gravimetric networks, determining the magnitude and direction of the gravitational force in any point of the planet. This, because the gravitational field plays a critical role in the definition of *Reference Frames, since all the measurements are in relation to it, thus it is the one that defines the horizontal and vertical with respect to the terrestrial surface.

He observes, studies and describes the temporal variation of the gravitational field because the gravity field undergoes changes due to the Earth’s rotation and land mass, as well as the movement of the planets.

Anomalies of the gravitational field disturb the orbits of the Earth’s artificial satellites, as well as the remote sensing orbit, which gives uncertainty in the accuracy of the data they provide.

He determines the measurements of the planet’s deformations, since according to the rate of tides, also the Earth’s crust, due to the same forces, it undergoes elastic deformations, termed earth tides.

He determines the Astronomic Geographical Coordinates, from the observation of the stars. This is because the coordinates of the World Geodetic System, because they are subject to the Earth’s crust, undergo the same displacements or deformations with time.

The needs for precision in reference systems of the scientific community have required very stable reference points, such as extra-galactic radio sources or quasars.

He develops *geodesic maps supported by astronomical studies, to be used in the drawing up of *topographical plans that will serve as the basis for the creation of *cartographic maps.

He establishes the *Local Reference Frames, based on *Global Reference Frames, to determine the coordinates of different points in a land.

He plans, designs, directs and implements any topographic and cartographic *survey, no matter its *scale, extension, application or requirement for precision.

He determines the positioning of points on the Earth’s surface and vessels in high seas, by means of satellite images.

He contributes with his theories and results of measurements and calculations to the *geometrical reference of other *geosciences as well as for *Geomatics, *Geographical Information Systems, *cadastral, *Spatial planning, engineering, construction, *Urbanism, air, maritime and land navigation, military applications and space programs.

He performs *surveys to make the geographical map of a country, the establishment of national and international borders and internal boundaries, mark out departmental and provincial boundaries, responding to the interest of the governments in having a topographic map that works as basis to conduct a *cadastre that allows the knowledge of the territory with accuracy.

He carries out *surveys for aeronautical charts in which the most important geographic features are shown, such as barriers, air routes, beacons or other guidance elements such as railroad tracks or roads.

He perform *mine and underground surveys.

He processes and analyzes seismic data and geological problems necessary to know for large-scale engineering works.

He supports in the evaluation of mineral, energy and natural resources.

He carries out *marine geodetic surveys to draft maps of oceans, river, ports or lakes, in order to establish the depths and facilitate a safer navigation; as well as coastal maps that represent the coast by showing the elements that may be important for navigation such as the most relevant geographic features, electric beacons and other guidance elements, as well as the water depth.

In this task, exploratory research vessels are used with SONAR and RADAR that allow a fast and accurate tracing of the area.

These *marine geodetic surveys also provide service to:

-Coastal erosion control studies and projects.

-Port planning

-Studies for the location and design of *marine outfalls.

-Studies and projects of protection works against the waves in ports, among others.

He provides his support in mathematics for the measurement and calculation on curved surfaces, since in it, methods similar to those used in the curved surface of the Earth are used.

He uses modern technologies such as *GPS, the management of *photogrammetric and satellite images, *GIS and in general, computer disciplines related to *Geomatics.

Occupational Field

-National Geographic Institute

-Public administration, in planning areas of urban and rural spatial planning.

-Ministries of the Environment, Agriculture and Development.


- Ministry of Communications and Transportation

-Geodetic, aerial survey and cartographic companies.

-Construction Companies of civil works

-Consulting firms or blueprint designers in major engineering works.

-Oil Industries

-Agricultural companies

-Forest companies

-Railway companies

-Mining companies

-Consultancies and groundwater surveying companies

In the scientific field: *geophysics, astronomy, geology, meteorology, seismology, etc.

-Research in public or private centers and in research and development department of large companies.

-Universities in teaching and research.

Estimated time of College years

5 years

Main courses considered in the syllabus

Basic Training Courses

*Mathematics (5 semesters)

*Descriptive Geometry (2 semesters)

*Physics (2 semesters)

Basic Chemistry

*Statistics Elements


Professional Training Courses


*Photogrammetry (3 semesters)

Mathematical Methods in Geodesy

Topographic Maps

Project Drawing

*Topography and Geodesy

Applied Geology


*Measurement errors

*Error compensation

*Geodetic Astronomy

*Photo Interpretation

*Geographic Information Systems

*Geodesy (4 semesters)

*Remote sensing


*General Geophysics

*Road Projects

*Cartography (2 semesters)

Advanced Astronomy

*Marine Geodesy

*Environmental Assessment

Complementary Training Courses


*Topographic Law

Administration of Geodetic Project


*Cadastral surveyor and Geodetic Engineer

Gravimetric Analysis


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


-Interest in the application of Mathematics and Geometry

-Appreciation for the accuracy, rigor and precision that mathematics provides.

-Taste for developing graphs and their interpretation.

-Motivation for the use of technology and precision instruments.

-Natural and frequent tendency to want to quantify and record things of his interest.

-Tendency to schematization.

-Attraction to Geography and *Geophysics.

-Interest and appreciation for Science and Technology.

-Appreciation for the Environment.


-Great skill in mathematical application and Geometry.

-Spatial location

-Visual acuity

-Without great difficulty for the understanding of physics and *geophysical phenomena.


Expand the knowledge of Natural Science, calculating and describing the shape and dimension of the Earth and other planets.

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

Candidate Personality





Work Scope


Work with reports, graphs, schemes and statistics, using the computer as a mean.

Related Careers

*Topographic Engineering, *Cartography, Bachelor’s degree in Geophysical Sciences.

*Glossary of Terms 

*Geodetic Astronomy: Study of the movement of the stars to determine the Geographic Coordinates of the Earth. The subject includes astronomic foundations and the relations between *Geographical and astronomical reference systems.

*Database: It is a set of programs that manage a stock of data that is organized in a way that is easy to access, store and update them (These programs act as a librarian who manages a stock of books).

*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 allows a part or all the earth’s surface to be represented on a plane.

*Automated Cartography: Software that is part of the *Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

*Cartography (Course): Use of *Automated cartography for the design of cartographic maps, which uses *map projections to represent the Earth (approximately spherical) on a flat surface, in which contours, surfaces and angles are represented.

This allows drawing maps in different *scales and with different types of *projections.

*Cartographic: Related to cartography/mapping.

*Cadastral: Related to cadastre.

*Cadastre: Techniques, inventory procedures and registry of real estate property, public and private, urban and rural in a land or country in their physical, judicial and valuation aspects, that will serve *sustainable development planning processes.

*Compensation: *Compensate: Counteract.

*Error Compensation (Course): Processing of *random errors by means of the Probability Theory and Statistics: Relation of Statistics and Probability concepts with accuracy. –Statistical principles of compensation.

-Tolerances suitable for each kind of geodetic surveys.

-Compensation methods and techniques for geodetic surveys.

*Land configuration: Description of the shape of land.

*Kinematics: Study of bodies in movement; that is, the study of their trajectory based on time.

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

*Statistic Elements: Concepts, methodology and techniques required to analyze the behavior of processes to which response is not possible to determine with accurately, since they are random processes.

*Outfall: Pipe that serves to evacuate wastewater of a population in the sea.

*Random Errors: These are errors that cannot be avoided because they happen due to changes in the environment in which the measurement is made: atmospheric pressure, wind, magnetic field, gravity, etc., errors due to the shortcomings of human senses and dozens of small effects that we cannot control.

Generally, random errors are small and they can be positive (greater than the real value) or negative (lesser than the real value), with the same probability.

These errors are called random errors, because they don’t follow a physical law and therefore must be treated with mathematical laws of probability.

*Measurement Errors (Course): Inherent errors to all kinds of measurement. –Error classification. –Elimination of *errors by mistake. –Correction of *systematic errors. –Processing of *random errors.

*Errors by mistake: They happen due to a bad procedure in measurements that can be avoided with greater care in them and increasing the number of measurements.

*Systematic Errors: They are errors produced by devices or measuring tapes with incorrect calibration or by the effect of temperature that alter the measurement in them, among others. These errors are of the same kind, that is, they always mark less than the real value or always mark more than the real value, so they are not compensated, and therefore are cumulative.

Systematic errors can be corrected by applying certain systematic methods that allow them to be checked and counteracted.

*Environmental Assessment: Carrying out reports on the environment and its resources, perform environmental impact assessment studies and their corresponding mitigation actions.

*Scale: It is the mathematical relation that exists between real dimensions and the ones in the drawing that represents reality on a plane or map.



-Work and energy. –Force fields

-Gravity. -Movement in a force field.

-Rest and movement conditions in a body under the action of forces.

-Different force systems. –Relation between the forces applied and movements.

-Characteristics of waves

-Nature and propagation of light

-Fundamental laws of Optics.

-Fundamental laws of Electromagnetism.

-Propagation of electromagnetic waves.

-Concepts and basic laws of Photometry.

-Physical principles of the measurement for distance using electromagnetic waves.

-Physical principles of the electronic measurement of angles.

-Alignment and leveling based on lasers.

-Handling of instruments.

-Optical systems intended to the study of photographic techniques and the use of observation instruments.

-Fundamental theories, laws and means of Acoustics.

*Photogrammetry: Technique to determine geometric properties of objects and territories from photographic images.

*Photogrammetry (Course): Use of aerial photographs in the identification of *morphological accidents and construction details.

-Techniques for the study and analysis of aerial photographs.

-Interpretation of the land’s surface from frames.

*Photogrammetric: Related to Photogrammetry.

*Photo interpretation: Conceptual and practical elements to identify and classify through aerial photographs the different elements that make up the natural and modified space, in order to make a photo-reading and photo interpretation of the analyzed zone.

*Geosciences: Earth sciences.

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

*Geodesy (Course): Geometric body that represents the Earth. –Measurement and calculation methods to determine its elements. (Geodetic reference systems and mathematic models used in calculations).

-Magnetic and gravitational field of the Earth.

-Instruments and methods for measuring gravity and the phenomena that modify it.

-Compensation of geodetic networks due to the corrections that must be applied to observations to estimate the true values.

*Marine Geodesy: Methods, instruments and equipment for *surveys in marine platform waters in order to measure and describe the physical features of the land below the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and their adjacent coastal regions.

*Geodetic: Related to Geodesy.

*Geophysics: Study of the Earth from the point of view of Physics.

*General Geophysics (Course): Study of the internal part of the Earth from the point of view of Physics: its gravity, magnetism, tides, *plate tectonics, seismology, etc. –Dynamic development of the Earth.

*Geophysical: Related to geophysics.

*Geomatics: Study of the Earth’s surface through the automatic processing of its information, that is, informatics.

*Analytic Geometry: It is the one that deals with geometric problems through graphs with the use of coordinates.

*Descriptive Geometry: Geometric studies that define the position of a point through its height and projection in a horizontal plane.

*GPS: Shortening for Global Positioning System.

It is a satellite location system that allows knowing the position of an object or person with a margin of error of centimeters.

*Gravimetric: Related to the measurement of gravity.

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

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

*Programming Language: Language the computer uses to work.

*Survey: It is the obtaining of all the accidents of the surface of a place, with its corresponding heights, distances and angles in the field.

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

*Cartographic Map: It is a global representation of broad areas of the territory as a country, region or the world, and therefore with less detail than a topographic map.

*Geodetic Map: Geometric reference system of large areas of territory where the ellipsoidal shape of the planet is considered for its greater accuracy and it works as a Global Reference System for topographic surveys.

*Mathematics (Course): Geometry and *Analytic Geometry. –Algebra, *Plane and spherical Trigonometry, *Calculus, *Differential equations.

*Morphological: Relative to the form, whether it is a urban layout, square, block or any other element that is part of the urban space.

*Remote Sensing: Methods, instruments, platforms (aerial and satellite) that are used in Remote Sensing and their applications. -Physical principles of remote sensing, classification. -Interaction of electromagnetic radiation with the atmosphere: absorption, dispersion, emission, reflection. –Processing and analysis of images in remote sensing, among others.

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

*Topographic Map: It is the detailed representation of the relief of a partial area of the Earth’s surface.

*Programming: Study of the design and development of programs firstly in an algorithmic language (sequences of steps to be followed by the program) to later translate it into a *computer language.*Database management.

*Map Projection: A map projection is a mathematical process that transforms the position of an objective in the Earth’s surface (spherical surface) into a map (flat surface) to be precisely located.

*Road Projects (Course): Communication Routes *Reference System (such as roads, railways, etc), according to the standards established.

*GIS: Geographic Information System.

*Geographic Information System: A Geographic Information System is software designed to receive, store, manipulate, analyze and display information with reference to its geographical location.

*Geographic Information System (Course): The subject includes *GIS characteristics and applications.

-Its functioning for the analysis and interpretation of the geographical spaces.

-Programming languages to be used in *GIS.

*Geometric Reference System: *Reference System: Point of origin or datum position from where the coordinates of the position of other points will be determined or from where length measurements will be taken.

*Global Reference System: Reference System for the entire Earth globe.

*Local Reference System: Reference System that will be used only for a reduced or local area.

*Tectonics: Geological structure produced by deformation of the earth crust.

*Types of Projections: There are three types of map projections: equidistance, equivalence and isogony.

An equidistance projection is when the proportionality of distances is maintained; when it is equivalent the proportionality between the map areas and the corresponding areas of the earth's surface is maintained; and isogonic when there is correspondence between the angles of the map and those of the earth’s surface.

No map can collect these three properties at the same time.

*Topography: Interpretation of a land’s surface from a geometric point of view, determining the position of elements and phenomena present in it, as well as the relation between them.

*Topography (Course): Fundamental measurement methods, calculations and procedures for land *surveys, for the drafting and interpretation of topographic planes. –Use of aerial photos in the identification of *morphological accidents and construction details.

-Determining of heights, altitudes and distances by means of instruments and expression of these values graphically or numerically.

-Topographical methods. –Determination of coordinates.

*Land configuration.

*Topography and Geodesy (Course): Fundamental measurement methods, calculations and procedures for the survey of large surface areas, where it is necessary to consider the real curvature of the Earth.

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

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