Meet the City Walls Team!

Meet the City Walls Team!


We are the City Walls team from JMU, and our goal is to create a model of a historically and culturally significant wall in Cartagena, Colombia. We plan to stitch together images from video captured by a drone flying above the wall. We will give this model to our mentor, Manuel Saba, an engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Cartagena, who will use an analysis software program called SAP2000 to test the model and reveal the wall’s structural stability. He will then measure porosity and use these factors to determine if there is a correlation between acid rain (a tangible example of climate change) and increased porosity in the stone used to make the wall. This project is an effort to use drones for historical conservation, and our team is pioneering this process by setting a precedent for future efforts to achieve conclusions using similar strategies.


The following are brief bios crafted by the individuals on the City Walls team:


Sarah Paynter, Psychology, Writing Rhetoric and Technical Communication


When I joined the City Walls team, I thought I would be something like the team reporter. In reality, I have been involved in every stage of the project’s design and implementation. I have learned new technical skills and developed my passion for innovation, but most of all, I have learned that I can use my communication skills as a leadership tool to bring momentum to the team. This project has taught me that interdisciplinary teamwork is more than each member contributing one distinct piece of a project; our talents and contributions are dynamic. We learn from each other and hone each other’s skills to develop our best possible selves. I have had the privilege of inviting my team members into my life, and I have learned that the best way to motivate a team is to invest in them with friendship, support, and often, cookies! I am learning that collaboration is not only trusting delegation – we must empower one another to contribute our best work by supporting each other with our own skill sets.


Matthew Truitte, Health Sciences


Before the birth of the City Walls project team, I envisioned myself learning how to code drones and being able to take the drone apart and piece it back together. Albeit I have become familiar with both of these concepts, I have learned less about coding and more about information associated with other aspects of the project. Through research, I have reached out and initiated international communication. I’ve also learned a great deal about cross-disciplinary collaboration with my team. We have really come together as team members and friends alike. Our differing skills and knowledge may be our strongest collective asset. We all have relevant information to contribute and we use constructive criticism to piggyback off of each other’s failures. I consider my input from a more analytical perspective to be one of my greatest strengths. I have provided potential solutions to big problems, and I have discovered flaws in other team member’s thinking when nobody else spotted them. If we continue with our excellent level of cooperation and teamwork I can see us exceeding expectations while we overcome roadblocks and trump weaknesses as we finalize our project.


Kiva Gayle, Integrated Science and Technology, Minor in Robotics


My name is Kiva Gayle and I am a junior Integrated Science and Technology major here at JMU. In the spring semester of 2016, I took a course on how to build UAV’s and discovered there was a second course in which we used the drones that we built and applied them to real world situations. When I began the class in August, I expected to continue building attachments to the drone that would be able to solve the issue of creating a 3D model of the wall at hand. Fast-forward to today, outside of the drone I am learning how to work a Sony camera and use that footage to develop the 3D model. Camera use definitely was not an area that I thought I would become knowledgeable in, but I am grateful that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and learn a new skill outside of the drone. The team that I am currently on is also the most diverse team that I have ever worked with. Normally I am paired with likeminded people, however, I have discovered new ways of interacting with others that has become extraordinarily valuable outside of this class. I was lucky, and while the friends that I am working with are different, we have all managed to work together very well to meet deadlines and get work done efficiently and effectively. One thing our team does need to work on is making sure that the work is divided evenly and fairly among us, and as we approach the end, we all want to say we had an equal part in the final product.

Dustin Hux, Computer Science and Robotics

Before I joined the City Walls group, I didn’t have a very good idea as to what I was going to do as a part of our team.  slack-for-ios-upload-3-nullI knew the class was about drone implementation to solve problems but I had no idea to what extent we would actually be helping people with our work.  What we’re actually doing is work that is beneficial to entire countries, PHD candidates, climate change, and history itself.  We have an opportunity that very few other undergraduates around the world have to visit a foreign country, do research with the help of our team and other professionals, and provide that research to people that can use it to do many beneficial things with.  This project has shown me how amazing a team from many different backgrounds that can communicate well can be, and the great ideas that emerge from interdisciplinary collaboration.  It has shown me personally that communication is so important and that all ideas are good ideas, because some other member of your team may be able to take a mediocre idea and turn it into a good one with their own intellect and experiences.  I don’t see many things that we need to improve on as far as collaboration is concerned as a team, but I will do my best personally to add more value to the team to help us be successful come our trip to Colombia.


Caoimhe O’Sullivan Roche, Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication AND Industrial Design

caoimheDesign is an ever-adapting field, and as the group’s Industrial Designer, I find myself changing roles and responsibilities as the project demands. I have a love of making and creating, but up to this point my contribution has largely been facilitation between the making and the communication sides of the project. It allows me the chance to wear many different hats and gain an overall understand of drone functionality and public exhibitions. This group is undoubtedly the most cohesive I have ever worked with in an academic setting. As time progresses, and we each focus on specific areas concerning the hardware and software of our project, the challenge will be maintaining our current levels of harmony and accountability. Though, I have no doubts that City Walls will come out shining on the other side.

Nick Sipes, Physics

Before our group was formed, I figured I would be handling most of the technical aspects of our project. Thankfully, I am doing exactly what I expected of myself in our group. I didn’t havslack-for-ios-upload-2-nulle to force myself into the role that I wanted due to the fact that we had a need for someone having my set of skills and degree of familiarity with drones. That being said, I’ve noticed how seamlessly our group members have found a role while working in this interdisciplinary team. I’ve never worked in a team where every member had a different specialization, so it was very eye opening to see how much our skills and lack thereof complimented one another. Throughout the course of this project, I’ve learned how to work well with others by discerning when to collaborate and when to delegate. As we approach our deadline, every team member has to be laser focused on our ultimate goal and not get lost in little details along the way.



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