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Physics Student Puts First ODU Academic Building on Google Earth

A physics graduate student at Old Dominion University has put his alma mater on the map, so to speak.

Thanks to the efforts of Mladen Dordevic, the Mary Denson Pretlow Planetarium has become the first academic building on the ODU campus to be represented by a three-dimensional model on Google Earth. Dordevic is working now on a model of the Physics and Oceanography Building and is challenging other members of the ODU community to take up the challenge of rendering campus buildings in 3-D.

The student created the 3-D effect by photographing the sides of the planetarium and applying the digital images he captured to a solid model he created using Google SketchUp software. He then submitted the model for approval by the Google 3-D Building Review Team and it was accepted. The model went live on Google Earth last week.

"Anyone can see the model by activating the 3-D building layer in the Google Earth app and zooming in on the campus," said Declan De Paor, associate professor of physics and a mentor to Dordevic. The professor also is the director of the planetarium.

De Paor said Dordevic and fellow graduate students Steve Wild and Whitney Brooks use the same modeling software in their doctoral research, albeit on a larger scale. "They make 3-D and 4-D models of the crust and mantle of the Earth and other terrestrial planets and moons," De Paor explained.

Last year, De Paor, a geophysicist, was a winner in the annual international "KML in Research" competition sponsored by Google Inc. KML stands for Keyhole MarkUp Language, a computer programming dialect of Extensible Markup Language (XML) designed for virtual globes such as Google Earth and NASA World Wind. De Paor invented a way to use KML to create 3-D data visualizations and models of the Earth's geology and geophysics.

This article was posted on: November 17, 2010

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