Talented Ella Bennett found a fantastic way to keep occupied and work towards her dream job in lockdown – creating an amazing miniature version of the National STEM Learning Centre (NSLC) on in York.
Ella was searching for an unusual building to recreate for her final project during her BA Model Design & Effects course, and spent thousands of hours painstakingly building it using acrylic, chemiwood, MDF including techniques such as 3D printing – and a lot of patience.
The model is now proudly on display at the centre, which is on the University of York campus – and Ella’s tutors were amazed by it, awarding her a first class honours degree.
The creation is all the more impressive when you consider that she had never visited the centre itself until recently – instead using Google Maps as her guide and inspiration. It was only when she had finished the model, and Covid restrictions were lifted, that she was able to make the trip from her home in Hertfordshire with her dad Phil and sister Alice to see it in person.
She said: “I don’t know the exact number of hours I worked on it, but it’s definitely into the thousands! With my perfectionism and other setbacks, it took way longer than expected.
“I could have carried on with it forever trying to make it perfect. It was completed 15 months after I started it, but I did have lots of interruptions throughout, mainly due to Covid.
“For most of the time it was kept at uni, but once uni finished it was kept in a back room away from as many people as possible – hard to do in a shared house!
“When I finally saw the NSLC in person, I was shocked at how big it was. Then I started seeing things in the building that I’d not seen on photos, and began being self-critical.
“The shapes did make it harder to figure out, but it was a nice challenge. Lots of features when scaled down needed to be simplified as some details were impossible to recreate at that scale. The most difficult part was choosing what details to put in and what to simplify; as a model maker you will always want to do more than is possible.
“I was proud of how it turned out and proud that I managed to make such a complex model.”
Ella, who is now a full-time operational model maker at Dyson, used acrylic, chemiwood, SLA (3D printing) MDF and grass flock.
She said: “Google Maps and Google Earth are great tool to use when full architectural drawings are not available. For the NSLC this tool was helpful to get the overall layout and match that to the available technical drawings that were provided.”
Our Project Officer Jenny Toft-Eriksen kept in touch with Ella throughout her construction of the model, and said: “We were delighted when Ella contacted us to let us know she was using the NSLC as the basis for her final project. It’s a stunningly detailed and intricate 1:200 scale model, the resemblance is incredible.
“It’s now on display in our resource centre for everyone to admire – colleagues, teachers who are attending CPD here and our other visitors too.
“Ella is so talented and she’s a great example of how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) skills are transferable to many sectors. As a model maker, you could have a very rewarding career in architecture or product design, but it also opens lots of other doors too – including film, television, advertising, medicine, construction, gaming and many more.”