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Thinking ahead in 3D

IUPUI students help preserve endangered species for future generations with augmented reality app

Dec 16, 2019

(This article originally appeared in the IUPUI newsroom.)

By Drew Hansen

What does IUPUI have in common with the southern white rhino, flatback sea turtle and Caribbean reef shark?

No, they aren’t firing off wicked jackknife dives in the Natatorium.

Under the direction of professor Zebulun Wood, a team of four informatics and computing students, led by Drennen Dooms, has been working for University of Massachusetts professor Duncan Irschick to create an educational app for Irschick’s library of 3D models of animals, some of which are endangered.

“It’s an international-level collaboration,” Wood said. “Duncan goes all over the world scanning these endangered species, and now Drennen and his team are digitizing them and making a scavenger app that can go to zoos and conferences to generate awareness for Duncan and his mission to digitally preserve all these species that are about to disappear.”

Dooms and fellow students Logan Moody, Darrin Caldwell and Joshua Armentrout are working on this project as part of Wood’s New Media 420 course, Multimedia Project Development.

In the class, students use their skill sets to create value for someone other than themselves, which isn’t typical for your average student.

“Our clients come to us because they don’t have other means to support their interest in a new technology or they aren’t informed about the technology,” Wood said. “We use that technology and our students’ skill sets to create partnerships, which can then lead to internships or careers.”

The program has partnered with well-recognized entities such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and United Way. You might think organizations would be hesitant to rely on student work, but the course’s projects and partnerships on campus, in Indianapolis and around the world have created dozens of internships, capstones, careers and protected intellectual property in the three years since Wood took over the course.


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