Geospatial Science Class Creates 3-D Virtual Campus

This weekend people will be walking through—and get this: flying over—the Radford University campus. And by the way, these people will be 275 miles away from Radford.

How can this happen? Through a technology Andrew Foy, assistant professor of geospatial science, has employed to create a 3-D virtual campus tour.

The tour, on display Saturday and Sunday at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., will allow viewers to see in amazing detail the Radford University campus from any angle, whether walking as a student along the sidewalks or flying like a bird overhead.

Foy and geospatial science majors Christopher Peterson and Ryan Gillespie, who will present the 3-D virtual tour at the science and engineering festival, created it using LIDAR, an optical remote sensing technology using light and lasers to measure the distance and properties of a selected object, such as a campus building.

Foy and Professor Bernd Kuennecke, chair of the Department of Geospatial Science, co-taught a class focused on the applied uses of LIDAR. Through a class project, the professors and students successfully mapped the campus, from the construction of the new College of Business and Economics building to Muse Hall, through 18 scans. Each scan took about an hour each to complete and provided a high-resolution 3-D survey, Foy said.

virtual image of Cook Hall

Cook Hall is featured in the 3-D virtual campus tour created by Assistant Professor of Geospatial Science Andrew Foy and his students.

"When finished, we will have a real-life campus model that can be used for numerous applications that can benefit many people on and off campus," he said.

Foy has used LIDAR often in the classroom, teaching his students the ins and outs of the new technology. He has worked with the Department of Geology to map a rock outcrop, and this summer he will be teaching a class to Virginia State Police officers on using LIDAR to map crime scene evidence.

Orion Rogers, dean of Radford's College of Science and Technology, will join Foy in displaying the virtual tour at the science and engineering festival, which this year will feature appearances by Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from the TV series "MythBusters."

The USA Science & Engineering Festival was developed to increase public awareness of the importance of science and to encourage youth to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Rogers said Radford "has the only undergraduate geospatial science degree program in Virginia, and we look forward to recruiting prospective majors to the College of Science and Technology and sharing the opportunities that are available at RU with the high school students who attend the festival."

Apr 24, 2012
Chad Osborne
(540) 831-7761