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PCGS Classes Explore Virtualization Technologies at the New USF Access 3D Lab
December 6th, 2018

 

Access 3D Lab

Students in Dr. Brooke Hansen’s Sustainable Tourism class got a tour of the Access 3D Lab and a hands-on demonstration of virtualization technologies and their applications to critical heritage tourism sites around the globe. Dr. Laura Harrison, Director of the newly opened lab, and Michelle Assaad, Senior Research Assistant, demonstrated laser scanning with state-of-the-art FARO and Artec instruments and highlighted the resources at the lab, including multiple high-end scanners, data processing software, trainings and workshops, and collaborative workspaces for student and faculty projects. The students were able to see the applications to tourist sites, which fall under the category “heritage at risk.” World heritage sites, such as Machu Picchu in Peru and many other UNESCO designated destinations, have faced degradation due to human and environmental factors. Virtualizing heritage sites not only preserves these locations for research and education, it can be incorporated into immersive sensory experiences for visitors without further damaging sensitive natural, cultural, or historical areas. Sites in the path of sea level rise and at risk due to global climate change are ideal for immersive technology and extended reality projects, as Dr. T.H. Culhane’s students learned on their visits to the lab during the fall semester.

The PCGS partnership with Dr. Harrison and the Access 3D Lab is leading to innovative faculty and student projects and grant development in the areas of Native American historic preservation and interpretation, climate change and sustainability education, and sustainable tourism modeling. On Nov. 2, Drs. Hansen and Harrison traveled to the Seminole Tribe’s Big Cypress Reservation for the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Native Arts and Culture Festival with a USF educational table sponsored by PCGS and the College of Arts and Sciences. Community members and visitors, especially the kids, enjoyed playing with the interactive virtualized computer models of artifacts, museum rooms, and archaeological sites. They also had 3D prints of some of the scanned objects and people were amazed by the level of detail that can be achieved with the latest iterations of scanning and printing technologies.

Dr. Harrison has developed a USF Career Readiness Badge system, in conjunction with the Career Services office, for upcoming student workshops and professional training opportunities, including the Dec. 11-21 project arranged by Dr. Culhane where students will learn how to create a 3D model of the Rosebud Continuum Education Center.  

In October, Dean Govindan Parayil of PCGS had an opportunity to tour the Access 3D Lab with faculty members Dr. Culhane and Dr. Hansen, both of whom are working with Dr. Harrison on a variety of projects. Dean Parayil tried out the FARO scanner and Dr. Harrison demonstrated some of the other scanning equipment with a scan of the Dean himself where immediately his avatar could be seen on the computer screen. 

The partnership PCGS has developed with the Access 3D Lab demonstrates the college’s commitment to incorporating the latest digital technologies for faculty research and student development. For more information on upcoming opportunities contact access3d@usf.edu.