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Internship helps physics student get started in 3D imaging business

Every day is different in the 3D printing business.

For an internship that began in the spring, Mark Patterson ’15 has created three-dimensional scans of actors’ heads for the Randolph College Greek Play. He saw his boss use 3D technology to help historic Jamestown recreate colonial-era pottery. He has traveled the country to teach people about hardware and software. And he has met a customer who wanted to create 3D scans of the heads of every species of bat.

IMG_6358That variety leads Patterson to believe he has found the career he wants to keep. “It’s not like I do the same project every day,” he said. “I get to do anything with 3D scanning and 3D modeling. It’s an ever changing world.”

Patterson got the internship thanks to a suggestion by Peter Sheldon, a physics professor at Randolph. This spring, Sheldon invited Patterson to tour GoMeasure3d, a company that sells 3D scanners, printers, and related software. He told Patterson to bring a resume, just in case.

“From the moment I stepped in and found out what they do, I thought, I would love to work here,” said Patterson. Sheldon asked the GoMeasure3D staff whether they had summer internships available, and Patterson handed in his resume. He also offered to demonstrate a 3D scanner at the Randolph College Science Festival. “A week or so later, I heard back from them, and they offered me a job,” he said.

Patterson’s first solo project was scanning the heads of actors who will perform in the Randolph College Greek Play this fall. The scans were used to create molds for the masks that the actors will wear.

A scan is created by projecting a grid pattern on an object—or a person’s head—and taking a picture. After repeating this process from several angles, a computer deciphers the photos to create a 3D model with millions of data points. After scanning the actors’ heads, Patterson prepared the files for 3D printing.

He also has been assigned to train people in using various kinds of 3D scanning and printing software and equipment.

Patterson worked full-time during the summer, and he was excited to be invited to continue working for GoMeasure3D part-time during his senior year. He plans to do research with 3D printing for his senior capstone project. And he hopes to keep working in this field.

He has already turned down another internship offer because he likes this one so much. “I like my job too much to go do something else.”

Megan Barrett ’10, who is returning to Randolph to perform in the 2014 Greek Play, looks at the 3D scan of her head.

Megan Barrett ’10, who is returning to Randolph to perform in the 2014 Greek Play, looks at the 3D scan of her head.

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