Nicholas' co-worker asked him to create a 3d model of Deer Lake just outside of Spokane Washington. His plan is to make a coffee table center piece out of wood using a CNC router supplied with the g-code created from Nicholas' model.
What makes his design really cool is the culmination of technology used in its creation! The topography surface was created with a heightmap in Rhinoceros 3D (a CAD design program). In computer graphics, a heightmap or heightfield is a raster image used to store values, such as surface elevation data, for display in 3D computer graphics.
The heightmap used in Nicholas' model came from a combination of data; firstly, data captured by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) flown aboard the Shuttle Endeavor in February 2000 to radar map the elevations of the world as well as the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) sensor aboard the Terra satellite launched in 1999 to provide electromagnetic data about the surface of the earth, and finally U.S. Geological Survey National Elevation Dataset.
The two images above are different renderings of the topographical section, skinned with a topographical overlay. The image below is a rendering of what the final wooden table centerpiece will look like when milled.