In summary

  • Students Sonal Shalya and Horace Lai created a 3D virutal tour of the Hawthorn campus’ TB building during a 12-week internship with Swinburne's Property and Space Management team
  • The 3D walkthrough will augment and enhance Swinburne’s space planning capabilities.
  • The internship gave Sonal and Horace the opportunity to use groundbreaking technology and learn on the job


Swinburne students Sonal Shalya and Horace Lai have created a 3D ‘virtual tour’ of the TB building at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus using groundbreaking technology to create an immersive, virtual twin that allows people to remotely explore, evaluate and measure spaces.

The project was part of a 12-week industry-based placement with Swinburne’s Facilities and Services Group Property and Space Management team.

Sonal and Horace spent weeks capturing hundreds of photogrammetry scans throughout the TB building that were transformed into a 3D model of the building. The students also produced a handbook for future users of the high-tech equipment and other creators of virtual tours.

Using a Matterport scanner (3D capture system), AutoCAD (computer design drafting software) and Archibus (facility management system) with SISfm (Swinburne’s online space management portal) makes this project radical in the future of space management.

Swinburne’s Senior Space Planning Analyst, Amir Anoushiravani, and Drafting Support Officer, Michael McGill, were the students’ supervisors. They describe Sonal and Horace as ‘pioneers’ in a new area of exploration for Swinburne.

‘3D modelling improves space planning capabilities by providing stakeholders enhanced visualisation for a better-informed engagement in space management at the university,’ they say.

‘The pandemic was an opportunity for us to accelerate our ambitions towards implementing 3D modelling technology, which is being introduced in leading companies around the world.’

The students worked with two industry partners - leader in 3D technology Matterport as well as software solutions provider Integrated Facilities Management - to produce this outcome. Additionally, the students were provided with broader context on Building Information Modelling and digital engineering by Will Joske.

3D walkthrough of the TB building

3D walkthrough of Swinburne’s TB building, created by students Sonal Shalya and Horace Lai

Meaningful learning

Sonal, who is studying a Master of Business Information Systems, specialising in Business Analysis, was brainstorming a 3D walkthrough solution before applying for the placement  at Swinburne.

‘Sitting at my first important meeting made me feel so legit! This was the "real deal!"’ she says.

Horace, a Master of Data Science student, says he learnt new things every day and was fulfilled by the interesting and challenging nature of his work.

’Most Swinburne students have no idea about their campus and just how many computer rooms, facilities, and resources there are that we can use’.

When in the TB building conducting their scanning, Sonal says they were always asked what they were doing by other students and staff.

‘Explaining our work to them and then receiving appreciation for such a great initiative inspired us to do our best and develop this 3D walkthrough solution,’ she says.

Pupil to professional

Horace is looking forward to finding new ways of applying his new found learnings and industry experience to  the real-world in the area of property and space management.

‘I was inspired by this project and I believe I can connect my knowledge with engineering somehow, by working on projects like a smart city,’ he says.

Sonal hopes to ‘be a force in the advancement of an organisation’ through working in a business or data analyst role, putting into practice all that she has learnt during her placement.

‘This experience helped me in making my transition from the classroom to a professional environment, dealing with real-life projects and improving my confidence in various transferable skills.’

Mr Anoushiravani and Mr McGill say they are grateful for the opportunity to host placement students.  

‘We have no doubt Horace and Sonal will have great success in their careers ahead of them having demonstrated a great degree of enthusiasm, professionalism, self-motivation and teamwork.’

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