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VCU Archaeology

Educational Applications of 3D Printing in the Virtual Curation Lab

by Bernard K. Means, Director

3D printing is taking the world by storm, and certainly is consuming quite a bit of my time and my interns and students working in the Virtual Curation Laboratory (VCL).  Today I work to complete a grant that will hopefully support a collaborative  partnership between the VCL and Dr. Vinod Nautiyal of the Archaeology Department of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna (HNB) Garhwal University, located in Uttarakhand state in northern India.  The basic goals of the proposed  project are to draw on the strengths of the VCL in integrating Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) undergraduates in preserving digital cultural heritage and making more widely available important archaeological and ethnographic research conducted by HNB Garhwal University in the Trans-Himalayan region.  VCU undergraduate students participating in this project or taking anthropology and other courses at VCU will be exposed to the rich history and heritage of the Trans-Himalayan region of northern India.  Working with HNB Garwhal University’s Dr. Nautiyal, VCU students will use digital artifact models created at Garwhal University to create virtual and actual exhibits that use their expertise in editing, creating, and printing 3D replicas developed in the VCL. As somewhat of a trial run for this project, Dr. Nautiyal and his students shared a digital model of a plaque of Buddha from the Mordhwaj site located in the foothills of Garhwal Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India.  This site is basically a temple structure made of bricks and dated between 440 BC and AD 400. The incomplete digital model was edited and 3D printed in the VCL on Friday, January 16, 2015–the same day it was received via email from Dr. Nautiyal in India.

Buddhist plaque ready for printing

Buddhist plaque ready for printing

I am also preparing for a webinar for Makerbot on the educational applications of 3D printing that will be held tomorrow from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.  I will discuss: Educational benefits of 3D printing replicas and artifacts; Curation through 3D scanning and printing; K12 and STEM education; Visualizing and exhibiting the past: education through museums.  I’ve not done a webinar before, so this should be interesting.  When a link to this webinar becomes available, I will post it on this blog site.

3D printed Buddhist plaque.

3D printed Buddhist plaque.

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