Improved Training for GPR Locating – A Discussion

Authors: Dennis Prezbindowski, Ph.D., GPR Instructor and Trainer with Staking University; Paul Larkin, Utility Locating Instructor and Trainer with Staking University

As manufactures of GPR (ground penetrating radar) and EM (electromagnetic) locating instrumentation continue to design and build more capable equipment, improved training of operators will be required to maximize the increase in project productivity needed to justify this investment. GPR and EM locating training programs should be evaluated and potentially modified to achieve improved training experiences for GPR and EM professionals as the technology evolves. Practical training is more than just presenting information in a classroom setting! 

What is training? There are many definitions, but at Staking U, we like the one provided in Wikipedia: “The development in oneself or others of any skill and knowledge or fitness that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals for improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity, and performance.” Training should provide a positive return to the client in increased productivity and improved personnel retention. There are many training methods. However, the aspects of GPR training that we believe provide the most benefit when combined are as following.

GPR Figure 2
Photo 2: Coaching trainees during a GPR field project

Lectures and Case Studies
GPR and EM technologies and their interactions with the subsurface can be very complicated, with the results difficult to interpret. A limited amount of lecture and practical case study presentations are required to provide a basic understanding of the technology (Photo 1 top). These initial presentations are particularly important when the training program participants have a wide range of experiences. These presentations provide the trainees with a joint GPR knowledge base so that the class participants can learn together as a team. GPR and EM locating case studies document successes as well as failures. Trainees can learn as much from examples of failure, as from successful applications of GPR and EM technologies used to locate subsurface utilities.

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