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The Making of Queen Anne’s Revenge for North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort Exhibit

Students from the Engineering Design & Technology program at New River Community College working on the project include Bradley Clark, Deniese Powell, Adam Crowder & Matt George.
Beaufort

New River Community College Students discuss film’s creation on October 16

Three years ago, several students from the Advanced Engineering Design & Technology program at New River Community College began a project that would take them back in time over three hundred years to the Golden Age of Piracy.

Jeff Levy had tasked his students with a project to create a virtual 3-D ship model. This wasn’t any model it was a model of Queen Anne’s Revenge, the flagship of Blackbeard the pirate.

When completed, the virtual model would become part of the expanded Queen Anne’s Revenge exhibit of Blackbeard’s artifacts at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

The public are invited to meet the team of students who built this model, the faculty who guided them, and the senior administration of New River Community College on Friday, October 16 at 7 p.m. The museum will host a public celebration to acknowledge their accomplishment.

Levy’s students will speak about their project at the North Carolina Maritime Museum. They will provide visitors with a “behind the scenes” glimpse of the work that went into the creation of the video. The discussion will take place in the museum’s auditorium.

The project was a joint venture with New River Community College and the NC Maritime Museum. The museum staff provided the basic research materials and the students have used it to create an exciting and enthralling virtual tour through this early eighteenth-century pirate ship.

“It’s been an amazing joint project,” says Paul Fontenoy, Curator of Maritime Research and Technology for the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

Levy, the Program Head for Engineering Design, made the trip to North Carolina three & half years ago and inquired about working with the museum on the Queen Anne’s Revenge project.

In August 2014, the students presented a preliminary version of their work at the college. The North Carolina Maritime Museum installed the preliminary version as an essential component of its upgraded exhibit on Queen Anne’s Revenge that opened in January 2015.

The Advanced Engineering Design and Technology students from New River Community College located in the southwestern corner of Virginia have been working with staff at the North Carolina Maritime Museum for the past three years in a reverse engineering project to digitally reconstruct timber by timber the Queen Anne's Revenge.

"Our students started out with prints from the late 1600's of a French Frigate which matched the ‘la concorde's’ type of design," according to Levy. “The shipwright's plans were not what we expected at all.  At that time we had completed both the reverse engineering and modeling of a Virginia Class Fast Attack Nuclear Submarine at full scale as well as the Navy's New SSBN-X Ohio Class replacement submarine concept,” said Levy in explaining the challenges his students had to overcome.

“We were ill prepared to tackle drawings that had any type of dimensions written in an extinct French dialect and with a man holding a rod with a cat or crow on top of it. Recreating the dimensions for the ship took seven students almost 2 ½ years while simultaneously using a digital engineering modeling program to create the actual model," according to Levy.

Levy’s toughest challenge was student manpower to complete the task. 

"The huge hurdle and challenge we had to overcome was this was a project that would typically only be done in during a Spring Semester by 4th semester students at a two year college. After assessing the difficulty of time on task for our students, we quickly made this a year round project for all students interested and we were able to recruit some very talented freshmen to work alongside our sophomores," he said.

3D Animation Instructor, Chris Kovach and graduate Bradley Clark were the Key Stones for the digital animation and first person walk through of the project.

Levy had nothing but high marks for the students drive to complete the project. 

He explained, “All of the students put in a tremendous amount of "out of class time" on this project and what they did was simply amazing. The total man hours of work that went into this project over the past three years was over 30,000 to the best of my calculations.” 

“The association of Blackbeard and the artifacts from Queen Anne’s Revenge makes this of primary importance to the history of Beaufort and North Carolina,” stated Joseph K. Schwarzer, Director of the North Carolina Maritime Museums. 

“We are thrilled the students at New River Community College were able to work with us on this exciting joint venture,” he stated. 

“I know there are a lot of great engineering and reverse engineering projects that come out of a lot of universities, but I would place this one right there with the best of them,” said Levy.

Levy hopes what we have done here will help establish a bench mark by which all such projects in the future can be measured by and that it will be a help and source of enjoyment to all those who have worked on the project as well as visit the museum.

Since then, the Advanced Engineering Design & Technology Program has produced an upgraded version of this 3-D model, which the museum will install this fall.

“We are very excited to be unveiling the final upgraded virtual tour,” stated Fontenoy. “We very much appreciate the dedication of the students and faculty in the Engineering Design & Technology Program, the resources the program has committed to its execution, and the professionalism of everyone involved,” he said.

“Over 150,000 visitors have explored the exhibit and watched the students’ work since the expanded Queen Anne’s Revenge exhibit opened in January stated David Cartier, Public Relations Coordinator for the North Carolina Maritime Museum system. “The museum’s visitors have found it a compelling experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else,” he said.

Prior to the event, visitors can receive a “behind the scenes” look at the expanded Queen Anne’s Revenge exhibit. Guided tours of Queen Anne’s Revenge exhibit will take place at 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.  These tours are limited to just 25 people and are expected to fill up. Advance reservations preferred by calling 252-728-7317.

In addition, staff members from the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab in Greenville will be at the Museum conducting lab demonstrations on the conservation of artifacts from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.  The lab provides a unique opportunity to bring the “behind the scenes” elements of the Queen Anne’s Revenge project to a wider public audience.

After the program, refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum is located at 315 Front Street, Beaufort, NC 28516. For more information, visit www.ncmaritimemuseums.com.