by Aaron Ellrich, VCU student and final blog as an intern in the Virtual Curation Laboratory
My 2013 fall internship at the Virtual Curation Laboratory could not have been better. Throughout the semester I worked on scanning thirteen prehistoric Native American projectile points borrowed from James Madison’s Montpelier. After laser scanning each projectile point and generating 3D animations, I transformed my research into a conference paper. On October 25th, I delivered my research at the 2013 annual meeting of the Archaeological Society of Virginia (ASV). This was my first conference paper ever, and so I was very nervous! Other students from the Virtual Curaiton Laboratory attended the conference as well, and so I wasn’t alone. I couldn’t help but feel the pressure of all eyes on me when it was my turn to speak. Fortunately I didn’t pass out, and I ended up winning the student paper competition!
Days before the conference the Virtual Curation Laboratory held its first artifact exhibition at VCU’s Cabell Library. As an intern, I assisted in setting up the exhibition. Each student who participated in the 2013 ASV conference was provided a spot to display some of the research they had been conducting at the Virtual Curation Laboratory. The day after our exhibition opening I participated in VCU’s first archaeology festival, “Blast with the Past”. This festival was hosted by VCU’s Virtual Archaeology Scanning Team and Anthropology Club. The festival itself was a “blast” because I was able to conduct public archaeology, talk about my interest in Native American cultures, and discuss the preservative aspects of 3D scanning and printing.
On September 15th I presented my research a second time at VCU’s 19th Annual World Studies Student Research Conference. Thanks to the ASV conference a few weeks earlier, I felt a little more confident in standing before an audience. Unfortunately I was sick during this conference, and so it took all I had to not loose my voice while a video camera recorded me.
In all I have learned a lot at the Virtual Curation Laboratory. Skills that I have received include working with 3D technology, proper handling of artifacts, exhibition development, and a bit of public archaeology. In addition to these skills, my partnership with James Madison’s Montpelier enabled me to develop a paper that led to two conferences where I presented my research. I still plan on conducing research in the lab this spring, and so who knows what my next project will be. I’d like to thank Dr. Bernard K. Means for this amazing opportunity, as well as Alan Huber who dedicated some of his time to show the how to operate the 3D MakerBot Replicator.