University of Louisville Students Kate Schneidau & Samuel Williams Tackle Bust of Lee Corso for ESPN GameDay

September 20, 2017

 On September 16th, the University of Louisville played host to ESPN GameDay, for a game set between the Clemson Tigers and the Louisville Cardinals. Contacted by the director of ESPN GameDay the day before the event, the Rapid Prototyping Center was tasked with printing a 3D bust of Lee Corso, an analyst for GameDay and  former UofL Football coach, for a segment to highlight U of L’s technology and student talent. RPC manager Tim Gornet assigned students Kate Schneidau and Samuel Williams the opportunity to work with Corso, an experience they were eager to tackle.

A GameDay tradition, Corso wears the mascot head of his pick the central motivation of the challenge. Schneidau and Williams set out to construct a bust of Corso himself that could in turn wear a smaller version of the mascot head. They were initially prompted to work with metal as an additive.

“Unfortunately they didn’t realize that metal prints, which can quickly (compared to traditional manufacturing) make extremely complex objects, actually take a long time to make and design and post process. So we quickly had to come up with something to print, and we had to switch to plastics because that was the only method that could be done in under 24 hours from start to finish,” says Williams adding. “ Initially the plan was to superimpose a cardinal crest on his head, but that addition was scrapped because it looked too much like a shark fin.”

First Down
 With the request coming in at the bottom of the fourth quarter, Schneidau and Williams were at a disadvantage with time, but excited to learn.

Schneidau explains, “This was the first time, for me, to use the scanning and modeling software. Before the bust could be built in out 3D printers we had to scan Mr. Corso’s head. After scanning Mr. Corso, we imported the scan into our modeling software and cleaned up any problems that occurred during scanning. This is where Samuel took over, as I mostly worked on the scanning.”

Using a sculpting program called MeshMixer, Williams believes the scan was met with complication. He says, “Living things are much more difficult to capture because even small movements degrade the scan. We only had time for one scan, so we didn’t notice until we had already left that most of Corso’s lips and eyes and nose were missing, so we had to add those later by hand with photos for reference. There is never really a perfect scan, so it requires a bit of time to smooth over rough edges and fill in holes,” says Williams.

He adds of their follow up and attention to detail, “After that, it was as simple as figuring out what size we could print with the time left on our plastics machines. Almost all of the prints we started came out successfully, with the exception of a special metal/plastic composite filament which looks and feels like metal, but has a tendency to break during long prints like this one. We ended up with about six different busts that finished on time.”

Corso or Bust
Coordinating with Mr. Corso and ESPN Gameday on a window of time that would allow for the approximately ten minutes necessary to scan his head, Schneidau looked forward to meeting him.

 “Both my parents are alumni, so I knew who Lee Corso was. As I was the one scanning I was trying to contain my excitement so that I did not mess up the scanner’s work, afterwards my supervisor told me jokingly that he was watching to see if my hands started shaking. The process was very straightforward; we had Mr. Corso sit in a chair in the middle of the room and I, holding the scanner, walked around him” says Schneidau.

The portion of the process that involved Corso was brief, but the print itself took a little more time, which meant that neither Scheidau or Williams were available to delivery the final product.

Williams explains, “We weren’t able to give the busts personally, but we dropped them off Saturday morning so that he could pick out his favorite color. We didn’t get any of the duplicates back, so I can only assume he liked all of them.”

The End Zone
For both Schneidau and Williams, working with Corso was a unique opportunity, and one that they both drew from.

Schneidau recalls of her experience and take away, “I learned how to use our scanning software, modeling software, and how a couple of our machines run, as I had never built anything on them before. Overall is was an experience that I will remember when I look back at my time here at U of L and Speed School.”

Williams took his experience as a chance to learn literally how to 3D scan. He admits, “It was rewarding to take up a new tool and use it to good effect in such a short period of time.”