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Academy, Air Force, Industry Experts Team to Improve Cadet Chapel

By Senior Airman Veronica Ward, U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs / Published June 27, 2014

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Thanks to laser technology, Academy construction officials say they can better inspect the Cadet Chapel for structural damage and web viewers can soon take virtual tours of Colorado’s most photographed landmark.

The interior and exterior of the chapel was laser scanned and photographed via remotely piloted aerial vehicle Monday through today as part of ongoing Academy engineering research.

Construction experts from the 21st Civil Engineering Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base met with software engineers form Autodesk, Inc., a two and three-dimensional design, engineering and entertainment software company, and used ground-based laser scanners and a DJI Phantom II remotely piloted aerial vehicle with a GoPro camera to collect photogrammetric data, said Lt. Col. Patrick Suermann, an Academy Civil and Environmental Engineering Department construction division chair and assistant professor.

“The chapel is still as beautiful and iconic as ever, but the brutal Colorado climate has taken its toll and the facility is showing its age,” he said. “Our data will create a one-of-a-kind building model to capture every detail and compelling evidence of the need for repair.”

Recent repairs on the chapel include fixing gutters and buttresses, but the chapel still leaks and freeze-thaw has damaged the building’s concrete foundation.

“Along with thoroughly documenting the chapel from top to bottom, one outcome of the effort will be an intelligent three dimensional virtual chapel for a wide variety of applications including web-based virtual tours, visualizing renovation options, special event planning, air flow and energy cost analysis, three dimensional printing, and more,” said Dave Papak, federal sales manager, Autodesk, Inc.

Suermann said a future partnership between the organizations could benefit Academy research for years to come.