Wilkes-Barre faculty member receives Geospatial Professor of the Year award

Two men standing, with one accepting an award from the other

Dimitrios Bolkas, right, receives the Younger Geospatial Professional award from Michael Olsen, associate professor of geomatics at Oregon State University.

Credit: LiDAR News

DALLAS, Pa. — Dimitrios Bolkas, associate professor of surveying engineering at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, received a leadership award during an industry conference for his work with virtual reality.

Bolkas, who is the coordinator of the surveying engineering program at the campus, was presented with the Younger Geospatial Professional award during the Geo Week conference in Denver, Colorado in February. The award recognizes someone in the field for their achievements in the 3D technology space and is jointly given by Geo Week and LiDAR News, a platform that focuses on the application of technology to solve 3D problems.

Bolkas was nominated by Michael Olsen, associate professor of geomatics at Oregon State University, for his work in engaging students with virtual reality. His award was presented by Gene Roe, founder and managing editor of LiDAR News. After receiving the award, Bolkas spoke to the audience about his work and the impact it has on students, demonstrating how he and his colleagues have enabled the usage of virtual reality in surveying and mapping.

“I am deeply grateful to be the recipient of this prestigious award. I would like to thank Dr. Michael Olsen for the nomination and Dr. Gene Roe,” Bolkas said. “This award demonstrates our commitment to excellence and innovation. It means that we have achieved something unique with high impact in the profession. It shows that we have been at the edge of innovation when it comes to creating and integrating new technologies in our curriculum. We were one of the first surveying programs to integrate immersive virtual reality in our classes, and we have a software with comprehensive laboratory simulations.”

Bolkas has attended the conference several times in prior years. Geo Week is an industry conference where professionals can see the latest technological trends and software, in addition to ways to process and model geospatial data. The event is supported by ASPRS and ISPRS (the American and International Societies of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing).

“Awards such as these show the quality of faculty in the surveying engineering program at Penn State Wilkes-Barre,” Bolkas said. “Faculty of our program are also chairing and co-chairing in international working groups of the ISPRS and the FIG (International Federation of Surveyors). Previous faculty have also held various positions with the ASPRS, SaGES (Surveying and Geomatics Educators Society) and AAGS (American Association for Geodetic Surveying). This demonstrates that faculty are leaders in the geospatial profession who are driving change and innovation in the geospatial profession and geospatial education in collaboration with other faculty and professionals. Our program has an incredible past, present and future to be excited about. Penn State Wilkes-Barre was, is and will continue to be a leading institution in surveying engineering education in the United States.”

Penn State Wilkes-Barre is the only school in Pennsylvania to offer a surveying engineering degree. Fewer than 20 programs in the country offer a bachelor’s degree in surveying and only six offer an engineering degree in surveying. The campus offers a bachelor’s degree in surveying engineering and an associate degree in surveying engineering technology.