Welcome to "Thinking 3D at the Illinois State Museum"

In 2012 we began exploring the use of 3D technology for supplementing research, exhibits, and education at the Illinois State Museum.  In July 2013, Dr. Joseph G. Deken, president of New Blankets, Inc. (a nonprofit educational foundation interested in promoting the sharing of open and free resources and technologies in communities) enlightened the Museum with a series of demonstrations and discussions.  In preparation for Dr. Deken's events, we put together this quick website with an introduction to the basics of 3D technology.  This introduction is neither refined nor exhaustive, but we wanted to share internet resources that we encountered in our learning process with event participants as a way to get them started in their own explorations.

Dr. Deken presented three Thinking 3D programs:

  •  In the Changes exhibition at the Illinois State Museum,  visitors interacted with Joe while he a demonstrated three different printers (a Makerbot "Replicator 2," a Deezmaker "Bukobot," and a "Solidoodle 3").   Visitors also had the opportunity to discuss scanning with students from the Environmental Studies Program at University of Illinois Springfield who were using a NextEngine 3-D Scanner to scan specimens from the Museum’s collections.  And, specimens related to the Museum's recent paleontological research by Dr. Chris Widga and his use of 3D technologies were on display.
  • At the Museum's Research and Collections Center, Joe gave two workshops highlighting recent developments in 3D technologies and the contributions of open collaborative thinking, free Open Source softwares, and the Maker movement.  After each presentation, attendees could explore the room and have discussions at the various "converstations" (with Dr. Deken at the 3D printers, with Dr. Widga discussing his use of CAT scan files and 3D printing in his research and collections work, with Rachel ____________, University of Illinois Springfield biology student demonstrating desktop scanning with the NextEngine 3D Scanner, with Mona Colburn at a computer with Museum website resources, and with Karli White, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Information technologist at the New Blankets video corner).  Among the fossil specimens on display were a partial skull of a scimitar cat excavated in 2007 from a Minnesota cave, a 3D printed replica of this skull (produced from a CT-scan), and a plaster replica of a scimitar cat skull from Texas.  Also, displayed were foot bones of American Mastodont that were CT-scanned, and are being processed for 3D printing. (Click to see the press release.)

At the end of each presentation, we realized that we were recipients of a rare opportunity to have one-on-one discussions with the experts.

Dr. Joseph Deken biography

Joseph Deken is President of New Blankets, Inc., and formerly was Director, Research Program Development at UC San Diego California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

Deken received an A.B. in physics summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis, a Ph.D. in mathematical statistics from Stanford University, and subsequently was awarded a two-year National Science Foundation (NSF) mathematical sciences postdoctoral research fellowship, which he held jointly at Stanford and M.I.T.

Deken has had a lifelong interest in learning and “EE = epistemological engineering.”  Early studies led him to learn a variety of languages beyond English: Spanish, French, Russian, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.  His first national recognition was actually by the Atlantic Monthly for a poem in their College Writing Contest.

After receiving his degrees, Deken has been a faculty member at Princeton, Stanford, the University of Texas at Austin, USC and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. He was the Associate Dean of the SIU School of Medicine for Information Resources. He has taught students in almost every area of mathematical statistics and computer science, including designing and teaching some of the first computer networking, interactive programming and artificial intelligence courses at the University of Texas, Austin. He was awarded the Teaching Innovation Award by UT Austin in recognition of this work and for organizing unprecedented student computer-cooperatives there.

At the National Science Foundation, Deken was founding Director of the Knowledge and Database Systems Program — as part of the launch at NSF of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate under Gordon Bell.  Subsequently, he headed the Knowledge and Database systems component of the Information, Robotics and Intelligent Systems Division at NSF.

Deken’s efforts to communicate science to the general public began with his book, The Electronic Cottage, which was a pioneering explanation and analysis of personal computing for general audiences in the early 1980′s.  The Electronic Cottage became a national bestseller and garnered Science Selection of the Book of the Month Club and other honors, including multiple translations.  Additional Deken books include Computer Images, which presents a systematic approach to understanding the use of computers in the visual realm; that book was translated into French, German, and Japanese as well as appearing in popular U.S. and U.K. editions.  Another popular book, later published by Bantam, described the basics of robotics and artificial intelligence for a general audience, and was provocatively titled Silico Sapiens.  Recently Deken has written, with UCSD colleague John Wooley, several editions of a “museum in a box” book describing the faculty of UCSD and their work, entitled Scholars Serving Society.

Deken's interest in the public understanding of science and active participation in contemporary science also led him to extensive museum work developing exhibits and educational activities.  He worked as Technology Curator at the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles and later served as Senior Scientist at the Reuben Fleet Science Center, in a San Diego partnership developed for his talents when he first joined the San Diego Supercomputer Center and UCSD.

In 2008, Deken joined with a group of colleagues from across the nation to launch a nonprofit organization called New Blankets. New Blankets is chartered to develop new technologies and new participation mechanisms that will re-invent Andrew Carnegie's concept of the Community Free Public Library  — bringing this, Carnegie’s momentous concept. into the internetworked, multimedia realm of our 21st century and beyond, and assisting learning-communities worldwide to flourish.