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Multi-million dollar grant propels virtualization research at USF

USF Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies expands its mission to create new center.

TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2016) The Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies (AIST) at the University of South Florida (USF) announced Thursday that it is expanding its role as a leading global education and 3D heritage research facility to become the Center for Virtualization and Applied SpatialTechnologies (CVAST) at USF. This change is made possible thanks to a $4.6 million grant from the Hitz Foundation and support from the College of Arts and Sciences at USF.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is extremely grateful to the vision of the Hitz Foundation to support the development of CVAST,” said Eric Eisenberg, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “For many years now, we in the college have recognized that the future discoveries and means of communication will be increasingly visual. The use of new technology to create and share visual representation is a development that cuts across the humanities, the natural sciences and social sciences.”

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., the Hitz Foundation is providing the resources that will allow USF to become a global leader in digital heritage and science and will bring museum collections, cultural heritage sites and historical landscapes to the world. Students, scientists and the public will gain access to proprietary or distant museum collections and monuments, allowing for virtual preservation, investigation and discovery through digital technologies.

“This award, when combined with the wonderful research and education resources already available at USF, will transform the digital humanities and digital sciences by creating one of the world's premier centers for virtualization,3D scanning, augmented reality, andimmersive digital education.” said Herb Maschner, Ph.D., executive director of CVAST at USF.

Along with Maschner, Co-Directors Lori Collins, Ph.D. and Travis Doering, Ph.D., CVAST will immediately combine the 3D team and technologies from AIST into a new, highly-advanced center with research and projects in areas of democratizing digital data, museum and educational digitization strategies, mixed reality and virtual representation, and will greatly expand global cultural heritage and digital science initiatives.

Maschner, one the world’s authorities on digital heritage and digital humanities, also will play an important synthesizing role at USF by integrating a number USF digital initiatives and expanding educational opportunities and interdisciplinary research on a global scale.

AIST, under Collins and Doering, has worked at many heritage sites and museums during the last nine years, digitally archiving and preserving national and world heritage treasures using 3D technologies. More than 100 important archaeological and cultural sites and collections have been documented by the USF team. With this new collaboration and Maschner’s leadership, CVAST will expand their 3D content-to-archive-to-analysis and 3D printing portfolio. CVAST’s globally significant contributions for heritage preservation and access will be of remarkable benefit for advancing digital strategies, outreach and research in the 3D and digital heritage arenas.

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