History 303 – Final Project

Back in March, I proposed the idea of representing the University of Waterloo at the end of its inaugural season in 1958 as a three-dimensional model. Using the platform Sketch Up, I would create 3D models of the Universities’ first established buildings. My first ambitions of this project involved researching the University blueprints and floor plans to establish very accurate and detailed models of the Graduate House and the Douglas Wright Engineering Building. At first I thought that I would be doing multiple buildings as represented by the picture above, but after an easy skim of the details of the picture, I discovered – like discovering sand at a beach – that the picture was taken in 1961. However, research reiteration was one of the more easily maneuverable shortcomings I experienced while completing this project. I would ‘like’ to state that this is a story of triumph and perseverance; but it is definitely not the prior, but could possibly be considered the latter.

As a man, I have this stubborn tenancy to ignore instructions. Luckily I am relatively technologically savvy enough to complete these tasks successfully without following directions. However, this minor skill set did not become advantageous for me when using the three-dimensional modelling platform Sketch Up.  Most computer programs’ functionality and effectiveness  can be related to the programs ability to be user friendly. These programs are designed for their functions, whether simply or complex, to be easy to use for existing and more importantly new users. This ergonomically engineered design for seamless user experience is the essence of this ‘lack of instruction’ mentality. These advantages, that exist very prominently among social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, are very limited to a program designed for building. Social media sites are not programs designed for producing tangible products from which ideas are implemented into. The complexity of the functions that can be achieved on a program like Sketch Up far exceed the functional capacity of social media sites. This degrades Sketch Ups’ rating system based on user friendliness, (at least for me; this criticism is biased) which in my case was detrimental to my ability to complete this project as thoroughly as originally intended. Without prior experience of drafting on 3D modelling programs, I was creating as I was learning through trial and error. This learning style which is my most effective style of learning as a kin-esthetic, it also meant their would exist a steep learning curve for me to battle against.

Based on the processes involved in completing a project like this, with a heavy reliance and use of Sketch Up, the success and overall quality of work will be reflected primarily by the ability to use the program. The research itself required to complete this project authentically was the easiest portion of groundwork, or in this case information, to obtain. A skill for drafting, however, was not as easily developed. This statement is actually rather misleading as it implies that I have developed some drafting skills but did so painstakingly. This is not entirely true because while the process has been painstaking, to say I have developed drafting skills would be an exaggeration.

In a perfect world, I would have liked to have achieved a very accurate and realistic-looking 3D model of the University of Waterloo’s first two buildings. Complete with authentic measurements, textures and objects that would reflect even the most minor and subtlest of nuances of the buildings’ physical features. This 3D model would be authenticated by the research and information collected from the Dana Porter Library. More specifically to my project, the information I required can be found in the Special Collections and Archives section of the library located in the basement of the Dana Porter Library. Additional relative information could be collected from the Map Library located in room 328 in the Dana Porter Library. The resources collected from these archives would serve as fundamental pieces of primary sources. Compiling the historical information with a prowess of the fundamentals of Sketch Up functions would create a recipe for success and would act as catalysts to producing a truly and authentically accurate model. Unfortunately for me only the ability to collect historical information was achievable for me.

Due to my lack of skill using the Sketch Up platform, I was not able to complete a very professional looking final product equivalent to that of a business presentation that I had sought out to achieve in the beginning. What I did manage to achieve is probably equivalent to an introductory drafting class assignment. The product that I was able to produce based on my skill with Sketch Up – or lack there of – and time parameters of the semester is essentially a ‘rough draft’ of what I would have liked to have achieved. Realistically, my ‘final’ product would be used as a rough copy of the macro details of the buildings physical features, dimensions and textures. Details of size and shape, featured external objects and colors of walls and roofs that roughly resemble the materials used in construction of the buildings are the emphasis of my ‘rough draft’ product. The resources for which, without digging through archives for information on details that are far beyond my skills of implementation, can be found through the University website portals provided by the links below. In conjunction and reference to one another, I was able to complete basic research based on these sources to complete my product. Instead, my product will solely focus on the exterior of the buildings while neglecting the finer or micro details of the buildings interior structures; rooms, halls, stairways etc. Unfortunately for my perturbed and disgruntled self, I had to settle on what is the equivalent of a ‘rough draft’ product after being stonewalled by my own ability to use Sketch Up. With that said it is important to note that even though I could not complete the task at hand to the full degree I set out to, I understand the research that would be involved in completing a ‘final draft’ in all its detail, but am limited by my skill set to implement the necessary research methods. I began scrounging for research before discovering that I was severely limited to implement the found information. Based on what I gauged as achievable, I realized that excess digging through archives was overkill to my newly refined goal, but detrimental to the relevance and application of the assignment to a history course; courses that are historically known for requiring research.

https://uwaterloo.ca/plant-operations/floor-plans , https://uwaterloo.ca/innovation60/photo-gallery , https://uwaterloo.ca/innovation60/60-years-facts-0 , https://uwaterloo.ca/map/pdf/map_bw.pdf

Metaphorically speaking, it is as if I know what I want my house to look like but I do not know how to build it. Physically or as a three-dimensional model on a computer program. I could have made a clay, or toothpick model of the university but that would not be academically relevant to a history of the web course, although probably easier. I only say that creating a tangible 3D model I could carry around would be easier because of my current prowess and skill with Sketch Up. Given an ample amount of time to self-teach, or with prior experience with drafting programs, I could be more fluent with the program to the point where using anything other than a computer-based 3D modelling program to create 3D models would be as tedious as I found it to use Sketch Up. Obviously, the easy use of a program like Sketch Up is one of the reasons it was created, the advantages of which I was unable to practice, experience and translate through my work.

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