Transforming Students from Consumers into Makers

Dominique Rissolo is the newly hired Special Projects Coordinator for the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) at UC San Diego, and he has embarked on a new search for funding and collaborations that will ensure the Center’s many cultural heritage projects not just survive, but thrive. Rissolo says CISA3 researchers are finding that “a lot of off-the-shelf tools really aren’t appropriate for scientific field research, which speaks to the expertise of our students and the unique contributions to cultural heritage research that are possible through computer science and engineering. Another big challenge is the integration of sensors with the aerial or underwater platforms. This is not just about creating pretty visualizations of objects and sites, but collecting data – in a variety of modes – that have real diagnostic and analytical value.” Underwater systems, Rissolo notes, must be particularly robust. “If it gets wet and goes deep,” he says, “you’re eventually going to lose it. In the world of underwater systems, ’two is one and one is none’ because the failure rate is so high and the loss rate is so high. A big part of what we must do is try not to lose the vehicles, which means they need navigation systems that allow us to control the vehicles remotely.” The problem, adds Rissolo, is that the overwhelming number of systems out there, drone wise, are built for hobbyists: “Our students are really focused on developing the kinds of systems that are designed for scientists.”

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