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>  News Releases >   2007 >   July

Students win Google's Campus 3D contest by building a virtual Dartmouth

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 07/11/07 • Susan Knapp • (603) 646-3661

A team of Dartmouth students has won Google's Build Your Campus in 3D Competition. Google asked "how would your campus look in 3D" and challenged students to use Google SketchUp and Google Earth software to find out. The Dartmouth group was one of seven winning teams chosen from more than 350 entries. The winners will enjoy a trip to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to meet and work with professional 3D modelers.

These 3D images were created using Google's SketchUp software with photographs as a guide. The buildings are then placed geographically in Hanover using Google Earth. (courtesy Lorie Loeb)
Rollins Chapel in 3D
Rollins Chapel
Baker Berry in 3D
Baker Berry
Dartmouth Hall in 3D
Dartmouth Hall
Observatory in 3D

Jessica Glago '08 led the team of students in digitizing and virtually reconstructing more than 130 buildings that make up the Dartmouth campus. Lorie Loeb, research assistant professor of computer science, served as faculty advisor. The effort was sponsored by the Department of Computer Science and the Digital Arts Minor, and it was supported by funding from Dartmouth's William H. Neukom 1964 Institute for Computational Science. Additional funding came from Borealis Ventures.

Glago confesses that they got off to a slow start. "We had our first meeting to see who was interested right before spring break in March," she says. "For most of April we all just kind of sat around a table not knowing where or how to begin." The deadline for submissions was June 1.

To motivate the group, Glago took more than a thousand pictures of the buildings on campus from every conceivable angle. "I got a lot of strange looks from people when I was taking pictures of, say, the back of Robinson Hall from the stairs of Thayer Dining Hall."

The students used photographs as a guide and Google SketchUp, a 3D computer modeling tool. Once the buildings were digitally recreated, they were placed on the Dartmouth campus using Google Earth, a mapping program that combines satellite imagery and aerial photographs with 3D capability. The contest was judged by an elite group of industry professionals from Walt Disney Imagineering, Electronic Arts, and other architectural and digital design firms.

"Not only am I incredibly proud of this team, I'm very pleased with the product they created," says their advisor Loeb. "People from around the world can now tour the Dartmouth campus on Google Earth. Visitors can find their way around campus and locate meeting rooms or other department offices through searchable keywords."

Stephanie Trudeau '09, a member of the team, remembers thinking it was a huge undertaking, especially since it was an extracurricular activity that they did in their free time. "One of the criteria was that you must model your entire campus, meaning every single building. We had to model everything from the Boathouse to the Sphinx," says Trudeau. "We had to find the balance between quality and speed. It's hard to simplify when you know you could make the buildings so much more elaborate if you were allowed to."

The Dartmouth team went a step beyond the contest's expectations to create three separate timelines, 1800, 1900 and 2007, to illustrate how the campus has grown and changed. With input from the Office of Planning, Design & Construction, accompanying material for each building explains when it was built, what it's used for, who the architect was, and when it was renovated.

Jennifer Huang '09 says that this project was the best part of her spring term. "Mostly it was because of the awesome group of people that worked on it."

Gemma Ross '08 agrees, but also acknowledges that sleep was sometimes sacrificed to get the entry in on time. "The excitement and sense of achievement everyone was feeling was amazing. Bottom line is that although the hours put into it grew painful, being a part of this fantastic and fun team made it all worth it."

Bill Nisen '73 was the alumni representative on the project, providing help with the research on the origins of the buildings. He sees this achievement as a sign of good things to come. "Dartmouth is uniquely positioned to use this project as a catalyst for becoming a center of excellence in 'hypergeography' ... As a society we have moved to a context where location is as easy to tell as time."

the Dartmouth 3D team
The group celebrates getting their entry submitted to Google. From left to right: Prasad Jayanti, associate professor and chair of computer science; Amanda Lobel '09; Jennifer Huang '09; Gemma Ross '08; Lorie Loeb, team advisor; William Nisen '73; Yoon-Ki Park '09; Danny Gobaud '10, Jessica Glago '08, Tim Tregubov, part time student; Yasemin Elci '07; Stephanie Trudeau '09; John Wilson, associate director of planning, design & construction; Hari Iyer '09; Ari Bezman '07. Team members not in picture: Dave Heinicke '08 and Samuel Kohn '09. (photo courtesy of Lorie Loeb)

The Dartmouth team: Ari Bezman '07, Nathan Chung '07, Yasemin Elci '07, Jessica Glago '08, Daniel Gobaud '10, Jennifer Huang '09, Dave Heinicke '08, Hari Iyer '09, Samuel Kohn '09; Mandy Lobel '09, Yoon-Ki Park '09, Gemma Ross '08, Stephanie Trudeau '09, and part-time student Tim Tregubov.

The other winning teams represented Purdue University, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Concordia University (Loyola Campus), IPFW - Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, University of Minnesota, and Stanford University.

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