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A drone lifts off to begin photographing the Dana Adobe and surrounding areas Tuesday. The photographic survey and 3-D laser scan is being done by students from the Environmental and Spatial Technologies (EAST) at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

Visitors to the Dana Adobe website may someday be able to “fly through” the historic home of Nipomo’s founder as the result of a project by some Santa Ynez Valley students.

The students from Ronald “Chip” Fenenga’s Environmental and Spatial Technologies program at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School completed their 3-D scan of the adobe Tuesday.

Ultimately, the results of the scan will provide a sort of “insurance policy” against any future damage to the house and will help DANA join an international drive to preserve historic sites.

“These are amazing,” Marina Washburn, executive director of the Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos, said of images the students captured Tuesday using an aerial drone. “I’m in awe still about what technology can do.”

Washburn said the students first became interested in scanning the Dana Adobe in fall 2013 and completed the first round of scanning in late November.

EAST provides technology training through student-driven service projects, she said.

The training covers hardware and software for 3-D modeling, GPS/GIS mapping and computer aided design.

The students began their project by taking multiple scans of various features of the exterior and interior, supplementing the scanned areas with photographs.

On Tuesday, the crew returned from 8:30 a.m. to about 1 p.m. and flew a small camera-equipped drone to get the final footage and scans of the site.

“I believe we can get the rest of the adobe done in that time, including interiors,” Fenenga said before students started the final round of scans.

Once all the data has been collected at the site, it will be transferred to computers, where software will render three-dimensional models of the building and its interiors.

A video to be produced by the students will show an animated fly-through that Washburn said likely will end up on the Dana Adobe website.

“But the 3-D is also digital preservation,” Washburn said. “The accuracy is better than 1 mm. If we needed to do reconstruction, it would be available — in the event of an earthquake or something.”

She noted that 3-D scanning of the adobe floor found in 2013 by a project archaeologist in the part of the adobe designated “Room 9” was of particular interest to DANA.

The digital modeling also will allow DANA to partner with the international nonprofit organization CyArk, which is launching a project to digitally preserve all 21 California missions.

CyArk was founded in 2003 after the Taliban destroyed 1,600-year-old Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.

The organization’s goal is to digitally preserve heritage sites around the world to make them not only accessible today but also available to future generations.

“This digitizing was the first step toward partnering with CyArk on the project called El Camino Real de California,” Washburn said.

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