Success and significance in surveying, mapping and photogrammetry
"All members of society bear responsibility for educating our young people, not just professors and teachers. All members of society benefit from well-educated students to replenish our ranks in all professions, and engineering is certainly no exception. Alumni guidance, in particular, can be invaluable in many areas, such as in assisting faculty in developing and modernizing programs, and in plotting new directions." — Paul R. Wolf Professor Emeritus University of Wisconsin-Madison
Presenting the Paul R. Wolf Professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Surveying, at its fundamental level, is measuring with precision and care. To measure something you give it definition, scope and meaning.
Few individuals have given as much definition and meaning to the field of surveying, mapping and photogrammetry as Professor Emeritus Paul R. Wolf of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UW-Madison.
Today, classrooms in Engineering Hall no longer echo with Professor Wolf's carefully crafted lectures about surveying, mapping and photogrammetry. However, the information he shared, and the drawings he created in multi-colored chalk have left their mark on his students.
“I owe so much, regarding where I am now, to his influence. When you look back on your training, you see how you set your direction and developed your professional aspects and curiosities. So much of my direction came from being one of Paul's students and having him as my advisor. I will never forget his persistence and encouragement, which gave me the self-confidence to know that I could succeed not just as an engineer, but as a woman in engineering.”
Ruth E. Neilan
Many of those former students, colleagues, industry leaders and alumni are pleased to present the Paul R. Wolf Professorship. You are invited to join in this effort to recognize an outstanding engineer, mentor and teacher.
Where does inspiration come from?
For many of us, inspiration stems from our roots. Some people are inspired from those around them, some from nature. Professor Wolf grew up on a farm near Mazomanie, Wisconsin. He loved the outdoors and reasoned that the field of civil engineering would offer many outdoor opportunities. After earning his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he began his career in 1960 as a highway engineer with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. In 1963, he joined the UW-Madison faculty as an instructor. There, he was mentored by such legendary engineering faculty as Eldon C. "Red" Wagner and department chair Arnold T. Lenz.
After receiving his PhD in 1967, Professor Wolf was appointed an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of California-Berkeley. He stayed at Berkeley until 1970, when he returned to his alma mater. Through the dedicated efforts of Professor Wolf and colleagues such as James L. Clapp, Ralph W. Keifer, Thomas M. Lillesand, David F. Mezera, Frank L. Scarpace, James P. Scherz, Alan P. Vonderohe, among others, the Wisconsin surveying, mapping and photogrammetry program gained an international reputation for quality. Its students received the finest training and mentoring available anywhere.
This success was due to the commitment that faculty members had to their students.
He has shared his expertise as an invited lecturer at national and international sessions of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, American Society of Photogrammetry, American Society for Engineering Education and the International Society for Photogrammetry.
Professor Wolf has also presented papers and lectures at numerous state and regional conferences, including the Wisconsin Surveyors Institute, the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors, Arizona Land Surveyors Conference, Oregon Surveying and Mapping Conference, the Joint Conference of Indiana and Illinois Land Surveyors, Pennsylvania Land Surveyors Conference, the Florida Society of Professional Land Surveyors Meeting and the Annual Convention of Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio, among others.
Throughout his career, Professor Wolf collaborated with many commercial surveying and mapping firms and governmental and regulatory agencies, including the California and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation, U.S. Bureau of Mines, U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Justice. A substantial portion of Professor Wolf's consulting activities involved developing photogrammetric procedures for forensic applications, a field in which he gained a national and international reputation.
Professor Wolf's awards and honors include: the Talbert Abrams Research Award from the American Society of Photogrammetry, the Earle J. Fennel Award from the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, a Surveying and Mapping Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and numerous research fellowships and citations.
Helping students see with more clarity
"Paul was a chalk-and-blackboard kind of guy. He had a skillful way of producing material on the board from which you could get really great notes. He could draw the most perfect circles for illustrating astronomic problems on the blackboard. And, he was a pretty good spoons player in the jug band at summer camp."
Steven D. Johnson
The best teachers have something in common: a willingness to teach students important and lasting lessons through collaboration and practical experience in the field, all of which came together at the summer surveying and hydrographic mapping camps in northern Wisconsin.
The surveying camp, held near Taylor Lake in the Chequamegon National Forest, was a beautiful setting conducive to study and learning. Students worked together with instructors on highway surveying, subdivision layouts and development of topographic maps.
Students attending the hydrographic mapping camps focused on mapping various lakes during the first week of the summer session. The groups usually stayed in private cabins or resorts. "We were almost always allowed to stay for free because people were anxious to support our students and to receive our maps," recalls Professor Wolf. "Many lakes were mapped," he says, "and our maps have been published and widely distributed for use, primarily by fishing and boating enthusiasts."
Before ending in 1972, these surveying and hydrographic camps gave civil and environmental engineering students hands-on experiences outside the classroom.
Extra measures of excellence
The UW-Madison College of Engineering seeks to support the Paul R. Wolf Professorship with an endowment of $1 million. Annual amounts will be distributed within the civil and environmental engineering department, while the fund principal will remain to provide support in perpetuity. Endowments such as this provide an extra measure of excellence in the college and serve as an enduring example for the college's alumni and friends.