Virtual Design Analysis Group is a division of NVentum, LLC.

This unique collaborative endeavor; to utilize the latest reality capture technology to document the artifacts, buildings and campus of History San Jose, provides opportunities for private sector, non-profits and institutions of higher education to work together to solve some of today's most pressing engineering issues. The protocol for retrofitting as-built historic facilities and the use of new technologies to preserve our most prized historic treasures are vital to the continued success and expanded influence of our museums.
This blog will document the challenges and successes of this ambitious, one of a kind project.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where History Meets Art and Technology

Laser Scan w/Texture Mapping
Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.

Laser Scan of SJ History Park Plaza
by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.

Laser Scan w/Texture Mapping
by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.

Laser Scan w/Texture Mapping
by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC

Frank Greene Scholars Students- "Takin' it all in".

Laser Scan Of SJ History Park

Laser Scan
by Ken Hanna- NVentum, LLC.

Laser Scan of History SJ Printers Office
by Ken Hanna- NVentum, LLC.

Photo and Forensic Scans
by Leica Geosystems

Forensic Laser Scans
by Leica Geosystems

Forensic Scans
by Leica Geosystems

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Details, Details

When I first envisioned this project, I saw a very complicated, thought invoking process that would require hundreds of hours of planning in addition to the actual on-site, physical processes involved in developing the end product. At initial presentation, the museum and campus present quite a challenge for any skilled professional let alone a project involving community college students. It's definitely challenging but it can be accomplished with proper curriculum, guidance and instruction.

After touring several of the restored homes on the property, I realized the amount of detail in the reality capture of the building's interior spaces would be one of the most critical aspects of the the project. Capturing the detail of the architecture is routine and there are no surprises from that aspect. However, when touring the homes and seeing the details involved in the artifacts, furnishings and objects on display, the scope of the project expands 3 fold. Obviously, there are paintings, antique lamps, photos, and furniture; everything you'd expect in a traditional home. Where it gets complicated is the "little details"; for instance, the kitchen, all the utensils

and "stuff". There are drawers full of antique cookware, eating utensils, food storage bins, an "Ice Box", salt & pepper shakers, etc..That's expected too, however the point of the 3D model is to provide the museum's operators with a detailed operational model that contains all artifacts and objects in the museum.

How do we account for cooking utensils that are in the kitchen but not visible, obstructed because they are stored in the cabinets and drawers? Sounds like a minor problem but as we get into this project, it becomes much more of an issue. The deeper you delve into this project, the more layers you discover; and "layered" is the best way to describe this project.

Logic says we start with a survey of the property. We follow the survey with the reality capture of the exterior of all the structures. We follow that with the reality capture of the interior of the structures. Now, we must attach the interior scans of the buildings to the exterior scans scans taken earlier, making sure we have the proper coordinates. These recently joined building scans must be attached to the GIS survey model. Next, artifacts must be scanned, documented and placed within the 3D model. The artifacts must then be attached to a coordinate within the 3D database as part of the asset management process. Simple, right?

Before I get too carried away, let's not forget I was just discussing the documentation phase of our project. Reality Capture and documentation is just one component of the overall plan. This began as a BIM project and we are squarely committed to the concept(s) of BIM and its relationship to environmental sustainability. Integration of intelligent systems to control and monitor building(s) performance, energy consumption, maintenance and operations are essential to the success of this project. Museums are particularly concerned about the quality of the environment where the artifacts are housed and maintained. Contaminants, pollutants, humidity, heat, cold, insects, larva and a host of other environmental concerns are a constant threat to the preservation of historical treasures. This was a major factor in NVentum's decision to develop this project in collaboration with a museum.

Indoor air quality has a major impact on our health and productivity. According to a 2009 report for the U.S. Department of Energy, in the United States commercial and residential buildings account for 39% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions and 70% of electrical consumption per year, according to the US Department of Energy. Buildings consume more energy than any other sector of our economy including transportation and industry. Proper Building Information Management (BIM) technology can have a major impact on the health and productivity of our community. Existing SMART technologies and procedures can improve Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) in a manner that significantly increases employee productivity and health. According to an August 2000 report from the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the estimated potential savings and productivity gains in the U.S. alone are $6 Billion to $14 Billion from reduced respiratory disease, $2 to $4 Billion from reduced allergies and $20 to $160 Billion from direct improvement in worker performance related to health. The importance of the sustainability questions that will be addressed through this project simply cannot be overstated.

When I was given access to the museum's warehouse which is located off the main campus, I was struck by the enormous responsibility we've assumed. For some reason, the History Park has always seemed to be more of a local "neighborhood museum" to me. This is probably a sentiment that is shared by many locals and San Jose natives. The reality of what we have in our own backyard is simply staggering. History San Jose is truly a treasure trove containing bits and pieces of every possible aspect of the human experience in San Jose and Santa Clara County. I am amazed, not only the enormity of the collection but the range and variety of artifacts. In one hour, I saw a prototype of the first Apple Computer mounted on a wooden board, a wooden bicycle built in the mid 1880's, five (5) antique motorcycles from pre-1920, native american pottery and handwritten notes from the valley's first Spanish settlers to the Royal Court of Spain.

The responsibility for implementing a proper procedure(s) for preserving these artifacts takes on a whole new meaning when you are face to face with treasures that chronicle the lives of the individuals and families of that helped establish and settle Santa Clara Valley.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Evergreen Valley College's VDC/BIM Programs

"Evergreen Valley College’s new BIM certificate program is designed to provide you with the necessary skills to compete for a growing number of jobs in the field of Virtual Design and Construction.  If you are already working in the Construction field or have an interest in finding out how you can enter this new occupation, take time to sign up for this new and exciting certificate program that begins in the Fall."
From Evergreen Valley College Webpage,

Santa Clara University
One of the driving factors behind the "Capturing History San Jose" project has been the lack of training opportunities available to people interested in laser scanning, VDC, BIM and many related emerging technologies. Several months ago, NVentum began the process of building relationships with various institutions of higher learning with the goal of creating a comprehensive laser scanning, VDC/BIM certification methodology and the support network necessary to sustain the program. In our minds, local universities, vocational schools and trade unions were the most likely candidates to adopt such a progressive program. The problem is the economy has many institutions reducing their curriculum. For example, the CSU system is cutting classes, raising admission and limiting students exposure to anything but core, essential components of their curriculum. At a time when we should be immersing our next generation of engineers and scientist in the technology(s) that will be in demand most, we are cutting back on educational and training programs. With the high unemployment and large numbers of members unable to pay dues, labor unions have seen major declines in revenues and have also found it necessary to reduce the amount of educational and training opportunities available to their members. This is the wrong time to reduce the amount educational resources for our citizens.

During a presentation at the San Jose campus of the Center for Employment Training (CET) a student said he was really excited to about our presentation on Reality Capture and he was hoping to find a training program to learn more about the process. He went on the mention that he was from Cambodia and he could get a laser scanning certification there but he wasn't sure it would be recognized here. He also mentioned that in Cambodia, they were studying 5D programs, not 3D!

Stanford University
This invites one very serious question; this is Silicon Valley, the cradle of technical innovation. How is it that we are not leading the world in the application and training of  VDC, BIM, 3D, 4D, 5D, reality capture? We have some of the leading engineering schools in the country yet these cutting edge concepts are not part of the curriculum. There is of course, one exception to this situation; Stanford University's Center for Integrated Facility Engineering, or CIFE research institute. CIFE is the premiere facility engineering project in the world and if you are in the Masters or PHD program at Stanford University, you've got an opportunity to apply. Otherwise, the Silicon Valley offers little in the form of education and/or training for these emerging and technical fields. Interestingly, many of the visitors to this blog are from Asia and Europe where it appears that the interest in this technology is on an upward climb.

San Jose Normal School-
Now Known As SJSU
Last summer, I heard that Evergreen Valley College was about to start the first BIM program at the Community College Level in Northern California. (Originally, I heard it was the first Community College level BIM program in the state however the L.A. Community College District's recent decision that all future L.A. Community College buildings must meet BIM established standards throws doubt on that claim.) Of course, this required my immediate attention so I emailed the Engineering Department to find out more about the programs offered. I was pleasantly surprised to find an entire department dedicated to the cutting edge technology that will become standard office tools for tomorrow's engineers and designers. Combined with the critical science of surveying and geomatics, reality capture and virtual design construction provides a unique collection of skills unavailable at most 4 year universities.

San Jose State University
Of course, it helps to have knowledgeable teachers, which Evergreen certainly has. One of them happens to be my partner at NVentum, Ken Hanna. For those of you who know Ken, you know he eats, drinks and sleeps BIM and Virtual Design Construction. When it comes to laser scanning technology, there are few who know more about the topic. The instructors in these specialized disciplines have years of instructional and practical experience however until now the program(s) were lacking a major component.

We are very excited about the partnership we've developed with Evergreen Valley College's BIM/VDC, Survey and Geomatics programs. Our collaborative efforts to map, scan and model the History San Jose campus will provide the practical learning experiences necessary to master the skills required in today's and tomorrow's job markets. The project offers opportunities for students to work directly on projects such as sustainable energy retrofits of both historic and non-historic buildings, working with cutting edge asset management technology, working with point cloud technology, software development/programming, reality capture technology, preservation and museum sciences applications, surveying and geomatics, virtual design construction/re-construction, seismic retrofits of historic and non-historic buildings, 3D models as management/operations data base, 4D VDC processes.

Evergreen Valley College
San Jose, CA.
We shouldn't have to worry about these jobs being outsourced. Most of the jobs requiring these skills are right here in the U.S.; sustainable retrofitting of as-built facilities, seismic retrofits, infrastructure monitoring and upgrades, new construction, etc.. The expanded use of these technologies will undoubtedly spin off other supporting businesses and industries that will further spur our economic growth. Before we can really begin to realize these changes, we have to provide training programs for our citizens. We shouldn't have to worry about these jobs being outsourced, unless we fail to establish training programs here, at home. Fortunately, Evergreen Valley College has taken the first major step in establishing a comprehensive program to address the void in technical training for our next generation of construction professionals, designers and engineers.

If you know of people who are looking for interesting careers and new technology(s), have them check out Evergreen Valley College in San Jose.