June 30, 2014, by Matt Davies

Why I love the DHC by student Volunteer Alumna Hester Pode.


Hester demonstrates the 3D scanner arm and becomes the ‘Face of Nottingham’ in the process!

My first experience with the DHC was before it even existed; (DHC co-founder, director and Classics Lecturer) Katharina Lorenz asked me how I would feel about working for free. I thought she meant for the whole of life, so wasn’t that favourable! She actually meant working alongside her in her 3D scanning projects. Thus an unbreakable connection with the DHC began.

By the time Katharina and I started working together, the new Humanities building had been built and the DHC created and so my projects with her slotted into the wider DHC community. Within my DHC role I continued to help with one-off 3D scanning projects: creating 3D scans of vases, statues, human hands, and even a kayak!

These 3D projects even made me the “face of Nottingham” (a phrase coined by yours truly!) – with photos of me scanning displayed up on the School’s website and in the prospectus. A friend of mine, a teacher, was even asked: “Sir, what’s that?”, by students looking at the Nottingham prospectus. He responded: “A Hester Pode.” I think his students meant the scanner! His noticing my appearance in the prospectus resulted in embarrassing Facebook uploads of the picture and the cringe-worthy accompanying video!

Meanwhile, I also spent one afternoon a week supervising the DHC and helping people to get to terms with the huge and fantastic range of equipment. This sounds like it could have been stressful; but, really, it was a fantastic place to do prep work for my course. I also got to meet and interact with a huge range of people, both lecturers and students from across the whole School, which was fascinating as I could learn about all their different topics.

For me, the DHC is amazing for two main reasons. Firstly, it helped me hugely with my coursework. As an Art History and Classics undergrad and a Visual Culture postgrad reproductions of artworks played an enormous part in my submitted work. The DHC allowed me to take fantastic scans (free of charge) and when the scanners weren’t large enough for my HUGE books, I could digitise them by using a high-spec camera with the copystand. Without these things, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the standards I wanted and needed in my work.

Secondly, the DHC provided me with new friends. It’s a hugely social space both with visitors and among volunteers. It’s great because you can meet people from other courses and year groups who can give you advice and perspective. It’s not so great if you have work to do, though, because you can spend too much time chatting…! Matt and Katharina also do great things like take us bowling or to laserquest and there are plenty of opportunities for social get-togethers in Nottingham.

I’m about to start a new museum-based job and I feel the DHC has been instrumental in helping me to gain this position. The skills I learnt there, regarding both the equipment and in terms of social skills, are a huge boost to my CV. They demonstrate my ability and competence in the use of digital tools to boost projects – this is a vital asset in an increasingly digital world. Sure, lots of people can say: “Hey, wasn’t that great how I got promoted on Facebook?” – I can also say that I learned how to work with complex and expensive equipment, but also helped others to learn how to use them too.

I will tell anyone who will listen how great the DHC is and encourage everybody to take part in it either as a volunteer or just as a visitor; it will definitely improve your university experience!

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