Exploring Digital Worlds

The fellowship DC 3D Imaging: From Your Imagination to [Augmented] Reality came to mind for Digital Commons Interim Director Cazembe Kennedy while thinking of ways to expand the virtual/augmented reality learning community at Vanderbilt. Given the wealth of resources and expertise in the digital imaging lab, 3D imaging was a natural fit for responding to student and faculty interest. 

Mentors Cazembe Kennedy, Zach Johnson, and Connor Gilmore shared their expertise in guiding students through this collaborative knowledge-building process. “One of the best things about this fellowship,” noted Kennedy, “was getting to hear the students’ ideation process for using 3D scanning and image augmentation and giving the students a chance to work together as a cohort. They bounced ideas off each other, shared resources and made suggestions to creatively problem solve.” Fellows created 3D image scans using image augmentation technologies. Some of the students focused on creating animations from scratch while others focused on creating image files using found objects. Both approaches enabled fellows to make the experience their own.  

Final projects served as a proof of concept for how to teach emerging technologies in a nontraditional classroom setting. Students infused limitless imagination and individual personalities into each finished object, showcasing their growth as creators and technologists. One fellow transformed a galaxy of stars into a sombrero-shaped animation sitting atop the “head” of an astronaut, an image built from the three-dimensional scan of a real-life figurine. This display was superimposed on a visual representation of a moon. With each layer, the fellow showed a sophistication in thinking through imaging design and how it functions in augmented reality.  

This fellowship sparked creativity in students with technical backgrounds and provided a conduit for exploring those interests in depth. As the Digital Commons plans out future curriculum offerings, Kennedy noted these efforts are ripe for collaboration through partnerships with other innovation centers on campus and in support of the research and teaching efforts of the departments of Computer Science, Engineering and Visual Arts/Graphics.