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Clarke Student Produces Virtual Mill for National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

posted on December 13, 2006

A grist mill, a building that uses water power to grind grain into flour, is a large operation. So when the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium wanted to present one to visitors, it quickly became apparent that building a working model was not a viable option.

With that, Mike Schwenker, exhibit coordinator at the museum and aquarium, contacted Clarke Associate Professor of Computer Science George Towfic, whose students worked on exhibits in the past. Towfic suggested a “virtual” graphical animation of the grist mill be created in order to save space and money, while still giving visitors an accurate explanation of the mill. He enlisted the assistance of Clarke graphic design major Ben Resnick, of Dubuque, to complete the project.

This virtual model, which features three-dimensional animation and text to describe the principles of a grist mill, is now permanently displayed at the museum and aquarium.

“The project allowed the students to gain hands-on experience in developing and implementing a product to fit a client’s wants and needs and then see how it stands up to the public in a real world application,” said Wayne McDermott, exhibit coordinator at the museum and aquarium. “We certainly hope to continue a partnership with Clarke in future endeavors to the benefit of our museum and aquarium and Clarke’s students.”

This project is the second effort in a working partnership between Clarke’s computer science department and the museum and aquarium. A few years ago, students in the computer science program designed and implemented a computer program that automatically runs the soundtrack and lighting for a grizzly bear display.

For more information, contact the Clarke College Public Relations Office at (563)588-6318.

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