Category Archives: Architecture

Spotlight on NOVA Makers: Andy Polcha

Andy Polcha, a NOVA student with aspirations to become an architect, finds the Fab Lab a canvas for his Art History and Architectural Drafting class projects and an integral part of his educational journey.

 Utilizing the Fab Lab’s advanced F series printer, Polcha has been able to create intricate 3D plastic models. One notable project is a reliquary (which traditionally houses sacred relics) for his Art History class, crafted from an entire spool of plastic and refined with a sodium hydroxide solution to achieve a polished finish. Polcha’s reliquary cleverly splits in half to reveal a hidden compartment which holds a gem owl, a cherished gift from his aunt.

In addition, he has crafted a variety of models, including a gazebo, columns, arches, and doors. For his final project in Architectural Drafting, he designed a house in classical style.

Drawing inspiration from the legacy of Italian Renaissance architects such as Michelangelo, Bernini, and Palladio, he references Architectural Treatises to refine his designs. To bring his ideas to life, he navigates Blender, a free software he compares to playing a piano – where each key performs a distinct function and mastering them all is essential. “Blender is notorious for being difficult because it encompasses everythingーthe renderer, animation tools for crafting full 3D animated movies, compositing, texture work, and much more,” he explained.

He has also utilized the Fab Lab’s resources to print professional-quality photos for set designs, drawing inspiration from the works of Italian Renaissance architect Vignola. These photos were then used in a local community theater production, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.

Currently pursuing an associate degree in General Education with aspirations for a bachelor’s degree in architecture, Polcha has always been passionate about building, a hobby that began in childhood with Lincoln Logs, Legos, and blocks. Despite early struggles with math that cast doubt on his potential as an architect, recent years have seen a significant boost in his confidence, largely due to his enthusiasm for Art History and Architectural Drafting courses.

After graduating from NOVA, Polcha aims to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Architecture at Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, or the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Reflecting on his experience at NOVA, Polcha said, “I love it because everything you need is here. The math center has been very helpful. They have a counseling center. If you want to do well, you almost have no choice but to do well. You will be successful in some way.”

The Fab Lab is a world-class makerspace open to all NOVA students, faculty, staff, and the wider educational community. Its mission is to cultivate a comprehensive experience in the Digital Fabrication realm by providing access to cutting-edge fabrication processes, training in 3D modeling, and fostering a foundation in the principles of Design Thinking and creative problem-solving.

“Everybody at the Fab Lab is nice and personable. I enjoy being there because whenever you seek help, they’re always willing to collaborate and figure things out together,” he shared.