Vermont Students Square Off in 3D Competition at Vermont Tech

25 Mar 2016

Featured in a WCAX article – A 3-D printing contest sounds more like a leap forward than a look back in time, but at the 3-D Vermont Architecture and History Olympiad, the past and the future go hand in hand.

“This is the original prison from 1809. These buildings were modeled using etchings that we found and also dimensions that we found using a historical document about the prison,” said Vincent Moeykens, Windsor High School sophomore.

Windsor High School’s team visited their local historical society and also talked to people who used to work at the old prison to put together their presentation. They say they learned about the prison system and how it shaped their town, especially as it expanded, shown in their gray models.

“We thought it would be good to make both, so we could contrast not only the size but also kind-of the influence of the prison,” said Moeykens.

Now, they found out, it’s been turned into low-income housing. That’s part of what teams learn as they trace the history building layouts and then ultimately design it for a 3-D printer.

“This is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which also burned down, and so you can see, the white building is the old church that burned down, and then the blue building is the modern one,” said Madeline Sawyer, Mater Christi eighth-grader.

The eighth-graders from Mater Christi School in Burlington worked their architecture lessons into their religion classes. Students picked different churches around Chittenden County like the Ira Allen Chapel at the University of Vermont and visited them to get their dimensions and trace their influence in the community.

“Some of these are churches that we go to, so it’s really interesting to learn about the history of those churches,” said Sawyer.

Other finds on the map include the Shelburne lighthouse, Vermont’s Statehouse and, in Rutland County, the Wilson Castle, turned from stone to plastic.

The 3-D printing technology is the hook for students, but the competition’s founder says the history is equally important. Winning teams have to do both well for a shot at the top title.

“A lot of the people they’re interviewing are people who are in their 80s and 90s, that history goes away. So we’re trying to preserve local history through this competition,” said Mike Hathorn, Hartford High School teacher and event founder.

At the end of the day, these models are staying with the state division for historic preservation. And this summer, they’re going on a tour of historic parks for everyone to see.

Winsdor High School took home top honors for the second year in a row. Enosburgh came in second. Students from both teams were offered scholarships at Vermont Technical College if they choose to attend.

More information about Vermont Tech’s Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering Technology can be found online.