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Fish Population Data Visualisation, Internships at Great Northern Way Campus, Vancouver


Here's a use for Blender that you haven't seen before: the Great Northern Way Campus in Vancouver, BC, Canada, has been quietly working with Blender and the Blender Game Engine to produce scientific data visualizations on the effect of fishing policy on fish populations. In addition, they're looking for summer interns who can work with Blender.

Stephen Danic wrote:

In early January 2008, representatives from the University of British Columbia (UBC) Fisheries Centre met with a group of students from the Masters of Digital Media program to form a collaborative partnership to develop an unusual product. The UBC Fisheries Centre needed a tool for effectively communicating their esoteric, statistically derived data to a multitude of non-scientists. What the UBC Fisheries Centre needed was a graphical representation of their scientific data which could easily be interpreted by people unfamiliar with their research.

The data which the UBC Fisheries Centre is concerned about comes in the form of graphs and statistical tables, and describes projected populations of marine species as a result of fishing policy. This data is based on the output from a suite of ecological modeling software called EcoPath with EcoSim (EwE: and is important to many people: to consumers, fisheries industry professionals and governments. The data can be a great help in informing policy makers as to whether or not the status quo is promoting a sustainable future for marine ecosystems.

The solution was what is called a 'data visualization', and now, three months down the road from the original conception, through many stages of development, the project is nearing completion. The MDM student team has built a product which will allow the UBC Fisheries Centre to display on a screen in 3D, a select number of species in real-time; the data which EwE delivers drives a dynamic 3D environment which instantaneously represents a point in the future which is inevitable, based on how the fishing industry is conducted today. This means that instead of committing to a decision which may or may not work, policy makers can use this software to test potential approaches to fisheries management and to see first hand what the results are likely to be.

Thus far, the MDM student team is very happy with their progress. The data visualization which the MDM student team has developed uses video game technology as a basis for the platform; this could be the first scientific data visualization which relies on a video game engine for its backbone - hence this is a unique product. The final version of the product may very well have considerable impact on the management of future marine ecosystems - hence it is relevant and inspirational. The team is very happy with everything they have accomplished thus far.



Stephen continues:

Additionally, the UBC Fisheries Centre in Vancouver, BC, Canada, is looking for a couple of summer interns for this project. If you're looking for a summer job working with Blender, this might be a good opportunity. You'd have be able to demonstrate your skill with Blender, Blender Game Engine, and Python in order to qualify for the job. Bonus points for GLSL shader experience.

Feel free to contact sdanic on gmail if you're interested in the position and you have a good portfolio or demoreel.

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-)