Building foundation for land surveying in coordination with national development
The most important task to start with for the launch of government projects for national construction and economic development was to work out “a detailed topographic map.” When the Nationalist government relocated to Taiwan, the aeronautical survey team of the Ministry of Water Resources brought with them 10 wooden crates, which by then had lain unused for many years. In 1951, Professor Hui-Shun Shih at the Taiwan Provincial College of Engineering signed a contract to temporarily borrow the crates. When opened, they contained precious rectifiers, multiplexes, and cartographic cameras, their market value over USD ten thousand at the time. These instruments served to facilitate the start of survey education at the Department of Civil Engineering in the Taiwan Provincial College of Engineering and of the land surveying of Taiwan.
Professor Hui-Shun Shih led a survey team and began accepting commissions from various parties. With precise planimetry as the foundation of national construction projects, their largest commission involved the development of tidal flats spanning from Dayuan, Taoyuan, to Xingda Port, Kaohsiung. Over 200 students participated in this project, completing aerial mosaics of 2,268 square kilometers of tidal flats and a 1/5000 aerial topographic mosaic of the area from Yunlin to Kaohsiung, which contributed significantly to Taiwan’s infrastructure.
These extraordinary achievements greatly impressed the visiting chief advisor of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, who then donated a Zeiss Stereo-Plannigraph C8. The addition of this aerial survey instrument significantly enhanced the capabilities of the team. They later took part in the site survey for the Tsengwen Dam and assisted in aerial survey work for National Freeway No. 1 and the Taoyuan International Airport, two of the Ten Major Construction Projects on the island. Faculty and staff members from Taiwan Provincial College of Engineering were also involved in the surveys of National Freeway No. 3, nuclear power plants, the Port of Taichung, and Nanzi Processing Export Zone. It could therefore be said that they are the surveying pioneers who laid the foundation for major national construction projects.
As they surveyed land throughout Taiwan in step with national development, Professor Hui-Shun Shih found original cadastral maps from the Japanese period. A US air raid had burned down the Government-General building, and local land offices were using copies that had many holes and thus led to constant land boundary disputes. Their accuracy was open to question, and they were bound to affect Taiwan’s future development. Professor Shih therefore presented a report to then Executive Yuan Premier, Chiang Ching-Kuo to first perform a cadastral aerial survey of Tainan and then launch three large-scale survey tasks throughout Taiwan: inspect triangulation points throughout Taiwan, set triangulation benchmarks for topographic maps to accelerate remapping, and complete the Aerial Mosaic of Taiwan to provide a firm foundation for national land surveys. At the same time, efforts made by faculty from Taiwan Provincial College of Engineering also contributed to urban planning maps for local governments such as Tainan, Taipei, Taichung, and Chiayi.
From 1950 to 2010, the survey team of the school upheld the teachings of Professor Shih: “Truth, competence, and perfection are the criteria of surveying.” Pursue true values in survey data, handle them competently, and aim for perfection. NCKUers are not afraid of hardship. Traveling across the island, they have completed half a century of land surveying and slowly produced the most precise foundation for Taiwan’s economic and urban development.
A 1961 photo of Professor Hui-Shun Shih doing surveying and mapping work of tidal flats (Courtesy of Hui-Shun Shih)
A 1951 photo of a team surveying and mapping using aerial survey instruments (Courtesy of NCKU Museum)
A 1971 photo of a team working with Wild A8 stereoplotter (Courtesy of NCKU Museum)