College of Technology

Growl Bengals, Growl: New Statue Comes to Life Through 3D Imaging

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The newest addition on Idaho State University's campus took on a life of its own through the use of lasers, GPS, and specialized software. Students studying in the ISU Geomatics Technology program created a three-dimensional image of the new bronze Bengal statue shortly after it was unveiled in the fall. The statue, which overlooks the Hutchinson Quadrangle, was measured using the latest surveying technology available.

The project, which was organized by faculty in the geomatics technology program, demonstrated the accuracy of available surveying equipment. "We wanted to use the laser scanner on something that the students are familiar with," said Darren Leavitt, ISU Geomatics and Civil Engineering Technology instructor. "The statue was the right size to give our students a starting point and familiarize them with this technology."

The students were able to complete an accurate, 3-D image of the bronze statue in less than one hour. First, targets were placed around the statue at locations locked down by Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. The scanning device then sent out laser beams which methodically hit the entire statue. Each laser was reflected and a pixel of information was sent back to the scanner. The pixels were then recorded and a picture of the statue was "painted" and mapped out. This modern technology has changed the way traditional surveying of roads, bridges, and buildings is being completed by engineers. "The exposure of students to this equipment is extremely important to their success after graduation," says Leavitt. "This is the way that our industry is heading, and projects like these reinforce what they have learned in the classroom."

Leavitt also added that this technology allows surveyors to complete projects in areas that are both inaccessible and could be potentially dangerous. The laser scanner also permits modifications to be designed to existing structures without having to close down an area for surveying. The data gathered by a laser scanner is accurate, complete, and collected in a fraction of the time.

Industry representatives from Bonneville Blueprint, an Idaho company with offices in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and Boise, brought the scanning device used in the project and donated their time to give instruction. The surveying company also assisted the ISU program earlier in the year to complete a similar 3-D image of the Brady Chapel inside Pocatello's Mountain View Cemetery. According to Bonneville Blueprint, the scanning device costs about $130,000.

The ISU Geomatics Technology program is one of only a few bachelor degree programs of its kind in the nation. It is also the only one in Idaho and began as an initiative under the direction of Governor C.L. Butch Otter. Students studying Geomatics and Civil Engineering Technology are trained to become professional land surveyors and civil engineering technicians.

IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY

921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, Idaho, 83209