Two Geomatics undergrad students have taken on an a-maize-ing senior project!
Betty Morris and Tim Jaskiewicz are both distance-learning students in our Geomatics program. Betty works as a GIS Analyst for Tetra Tech and Tim works as a professional surveyor for Wood PLC E&IS. Both use the Gulf Coast Research & Education Center and Mid-Florida Research & Education Center for completing their studies.
The Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA) sponsored Betty and Tim each with a $1000 scholarship to design the Futch Family’s Fox Squirrel Corn Maze for their senior project.
“Designing the maze was such a unique project in itself that to also receive financial assistance from FSGA, due to Janet Futch’s hard work in securing a sponsor, was an appreciated benefit,” said Betty and Tim.
While the maze won’t open until October, the groundwork for the design began back in May. The pair met with Janet and Carson Futch to discuss parameters for the maze, such as path dimensions and safety rules. They hoped to design a creative trail that would be challenging and fun for participants and also celebrate the FGSA.
Betty and Tim had a little less than three weeks to collect preliminary data and design the maze. After getting the design approved, the two quickly began to stake out paths for mowing. However, they immediately faced some small setbacks.
“After our first day flagging the maze, we learned that the sprinkler system would be staying in place. This meant we had to reshape and modify sections of the design to keep sprinklers out of the pathways for ease of mowing and safety of guests,” said Betty, “Luckily, since we had already collected the sprinklers’ locations during our first visit, the redesign took only a couple hours of computer time to complete.”
The Futch family had also planted a different type of corn than in the past, which ended up growing much faster than anticipated. Betty and Tim knocked out flagging a week ahead of schedule in order to allow the family the chance to mow before it became too overgrown. Said Janet Futch: “They knew and understood the need for speed.”
The maze will be open on weekends from October 5-27. In the meantime, Betty and Tim will continue to monitor the maze and collect data, fortunately, at a more relaxed pace.
“The corn has grown at least 3 feet high with all the rain,” said Betty. “We will continue to observe its growth and how well the pathways are maintained to the original design.”
They are excited to see their project come to completion this fall.
“Thanks to the Futch family, FSGA, and support from the University of Florida, Betty and I were able to put our diverse skill sets to use and work together towards experiencing project level tasks which we will encounter in our professional careers. We both learned a great deal about professionalism, delivering a timely product, and most of all, put our shared learning experiences to use,” said Tim, “The Fox Squirrel Farms corn maze may become a UF Geomatics tradition and I look forward to following this project for many years to come.”