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Service Learning In The U. S. Virgin Islands National Park: A Virtual Preservation Project

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Industrial Collaborations

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1108.1 - 10.1108.11



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Paper Authors

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Ken Wild

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Constance Holden

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Karen Horton

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Service Learning in the U. S. Virgin Islands National Park: A Virtual Preservation Project

Karen J. Horton, Constance Holden, Ken Wild University of Maine/National Park Service


In the spring term of 2004 twelve students and two faculty members at the University of Maine (UM) participated in a service learning project for the U. S. Virgin Islands National Park (the Park) on St. John. The Park archeologist sought to virtually preserve decaying sugar plantation buildings using three dimensional computer-aided design (3D CAD) models with photographic skins. The challenges included fast turn-around time, student project management, and unforeseen technical requirements. The interdisciplinary service learning team was able to demonstrate the feasibility of the virtual preservation concept. The project resulted in benefits for the students, the faculty members, and the institutions. One student summarized her experience: “There were no textbooks or directions telling us what to do, what to measure, where to store our information or how to analyze it….The greatest part of this project: knowing we’re making a difference.”1


A brief phone conversation between Karen Horton and Ken Wild in July 2003 started twelve students and two faculty members at the University of Maine (UM) on an enviable service learning odyssey. Horton is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) at UM. Wild is the Archeologist and Cultural Resource Manager for the National Park Service at the Virgin Islands National Park (the Park) on St. John. He is faced with managing hundreds of crumbling stone buildings built in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries by enslaved people from Africa under sugar plantation owners who were subject to the Danish crown. Funding is inadequate to stabilize the deteriorating structures. Wild’s goal is to create three-dimensional computer models with photographic images of the most important and threatened structures. He envisions a web site in which the three-dimensional images of the models can be manipulated so that viewers can “walk through” realistic-looking structures. The structures would be placed on a model of the terrain of St. John to demonstrate their locations. This vision will be referred to as virtual preservation.

Wild was interested in hiring student interns with technical backgrounds to use MicroStation (Bentley Systems, Inc.) to model specific structures.2 A water-drawing windmill facing imminent collapse is located at the Leinster Bay sugar factory site. He sought students who could clear jungle at the site, measure the windmill and other structures, photograph them, model them, apply the photographs to the models, take survey and global positioning system (GPS)

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Wild, K., & Holden, C., & Horton, K. (2005, June), Service Learning In The U. S. Virgin Islands National Park: A Virtual Preservation Project Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15441

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