USC student Mitch Dakin and Lene Knudsen of Growcom with Mr Dakin's augmented reality sandbox. Photo: Contributed
USC student Mitch Dakin and Lene Knudsen of Growcom with Mr Dakin's augmented reality sandbox. Photo: Contributed

Student’s colourful sandbox a lesson in hydrology for growers

AT FIRST glance, Mitch Dakin’s colourful sandbox might look like something a child would love to play with.

In reality, the USC Civil Engineering Honours student’s clever creation will play an important role in erosion control and flood resilience for Queensland growers.

Originally from Maryborough and now living in Aroona, Mitch’s Augmented Reality hydrology sandbox will be used by Queensland’s peak horticulture industry body Growcom.

It will also be used by USC to teach Engineering students about hydrology.

Based on a design developed by the University of California, Davis, the sandbox is overlaid with a digital projection of the Earth’s surface that can be live-updated as a 3D topographic visualisation.

Mitch said scooping and moulding the sand, or gesturing above it, enabled users to simulate the fall and flow of rain over any type of landscape, from hills to flood plains.

“The work aims to minimise environmental impacts from farming, especially agricultural run-off to local waterways,” he said

“By illustrating to growers how water moves within different topographical landscapes, the sandbox will especially assist people with a more visual and hands-on learning style.”

The project took him 490 hours, including the creation of a project charter, AutoCAD design, structural design calculations, software installation and all relevant project works and meetings.

“My USC engineering methods and project management skills were used as a baseline for developing the sandbox,” he said.

“This project has elevated my competence as an undergraduate engineer by allowing me to work with stakeholders and use important skills learned through my studies at USC.”

Growcom representative Lene Knudsen said the sandbox would be taken to workshops, field days and conferences to bring more focus to the importance of hydrology in farming.

Mr Dakin graduated St Mary’s Catholic College Maryborough in 2016 and intends to work as a graduate engineer on the Sunshine Coast after he graduates next year.



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