Coming to a classroom near you ..

14th June 2013 at 01:00
3D visualisation software

Explore the past in a whole new way.

For students who wish to become the designers, architects and engineers of tomorrow, school IT systems are typically not equipped with the very best professional design software available to help nurture fledgling talents.

But for any would-be Frank Gehry - designer of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain - that may be about to change. For a version of the 3D visualisation software that Gehry used to create the blueprint for his celebrated design is now being made available to schools by developer Dassault Systemes.

Renowned for its products that are used to design everything from sports cars to jet planes, Dassault expanded into education after assisting the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Harvard University in producing a 3D computerised recreation of the lost plateau of Giza. It has since completed a project recreating Roman Paris and is currently working with archaeologists on the wreck of Louis XIV's ship La Lune, to perform a similar feat. The idea is that students can explore the past rather than just read about it.

But as well as recreating history to educate students, Dassault wants to assist them in creating designs for the future by establishing partnerships with schools.

These partnerships will allow students to use the 3DExperience software employed by Gehry, which enables designers to view a design in 3D, rotating it and exploring inside, either as a visualisation on a 2D screen or, via glasses, in full 3D mode. The company says the software is used by the likes of aerospace company Boeing, as well as architects such as Gehry.

Ash Green School in Coventry, England, is in the initial stages of such a partnership and is using the software on projects in which students design their own iPad app, a car and even a shopping centre.

"It is a perfect fit to the developing aspirations of our students," assistant principal Mark Williams says. "The students are learning skills and developing aspirations that we are unable to deliver simply using our own resources."

Either using the design software or studying the historical recreations, it is possible to view the images on everything from interactive whiteboards to cinema screens, Dassault says. The company adds that should schools have a surfeit of cash, they could also view both using the latest 3D technology: an immersion cave.

The cave is created by beaming 3D images on to seven separate screens that surround the user who wears motion-tracking 3D glasses.

The company admits, however, that the cave is far beyond most schools' budgets. But then, so was software such as 3DExperience until these partnerships were implemented. For more details, visit www.3ds.com.

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