NSU Engineering School Students Created 3D Model of Campus

Second-year students at the Engineering School that is a part of the NSU Department of Mechanics and Mathematics created a 3D model of the campus and prepared a video to simulate a walk around the academic buildings and dormitories. The project also presents the new campus buildings and SESC NSU that are under construction and scheduled for completion by 2024. The project was created as part of the Materials Science, 3D-Modeling, and 3D-Printing Course.

Course teacher Mikhail Demyanov talked about the idea for the final project,

The purpose of our course is to learn how to model and construct things. The first course was associated with the modeling of simple items and structures. When their skills developed, they worked on larger projects. A project dedicated to the construction of the new campus was very timely for the University. My colleagues and I discussed the possibility and decided it was a great idea to build a digital copy of the NSU campus. We applied our innovative approach to learning, knowledge deficit, and observed how the students implemented the project, what skills they used. Since 3D technologies in the modern world are the third literacy, I believe these students will plunge into the world of “metaverses” when they graduate and apply the skills they have learned. 

The work on the model was conducted in three stages. Eighteen sophomores split into micro-groups and modeled each campus building, including the University dormitories under construction and the academic buildings of the physics and mathematics school. Four more students, Danil Taranets, Andrey Gumirov, Mikhail Okan, and Artem Shmakov textured the buildings to make them look like the originals. Finally, Bruce Baek and Dasha Piskeeva put the pieces together and edited the video.

One of the students, Igor Uchanov, has been familiar with 3D modeling for a long time so he helped the entire team quickly navigate the terms of reference and proceed to the first stage of the project. He talked about preparing the layout,

We basically received drawings for building the models fr om the teacher. There were only photographs and plans for the new buildings so they were not complete. In fact, together with Dasha Shestakova, we had to build a complex of new dormitories based on the architects’ renderings. 

Taranets received ready-made models from the building layout teams. He, together with his three classmates, had to choose colors and textures to make the buildings look as realistic as possible. 

He commented on the process,

Colors and textures were usually selected from the basic offerings in the program. However, sometimes this was challenging because there were no suitable textures and I had to go and photograph the wall of the building in winter in poor lighting, crop and edit the photo, and then place it into the model. For example, dormitories No. 9, 10 and the Main Building have very specific bricks. Another challenge in the texturing work was coloring the campus buildings that are still in the planning stages. There are no normal renderings so you could see how the building looks from all sides so sometimes you had to select the most logical colors based on your ideas and other buildings similar to what you were texturing, 

A lot of difficulties arose during the creation of the final video. Bruce Baek explained that the team spent a long time selecting programs wh ere it was possible to develop a map with objects and render a movie with minimal time and losses when importing files. As a result, they settled on SketchUp and Lumion.

Baek continued,

We used SketchUp for map development and object placement and Lumion for landscape, rendering, and all sorts of goodies to enhance the beauty of the overall result, since they turned out to be friendly software interacting via LiveSync. It was possible to edit the map in SketchUp and immediately see the changes in Lumion, which saved us a lot of time. Dasha and I sat down to model a map without any experience in these programs so we had to use PlaceMaker, a paid plug-in for automatically building maps, roads, and paths. The entire group of second year engineers worked on it. After that, Dasha and I completed the map several times (removed sun glare, changed the trajectory of cars, removed the grass texture overlay on buildings, etc.) and completed the video on our third attempt. 

You can now take a walk around the virtual campus, including the new buildings and dormitories that are still under construction, thanks to the video the students made in their 3D modeling course.