Interior architecture and design engages high school students in eastern Colorado with Sketch-Up technology

Maria DelgadoMaria Delgado, assistant professor for the Colorado State University Interior Architecture and Design Program in the Department of Design and Merchandising, found a creative engagement opportunity for high school students in Eastern Colorado.

Delgado has hosted summer camps focused on teaching students how to 3D model using Sketch-Up over the past five years, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the camp was unable to continue in summer 2020. Despite the bad news, she began working towards a creative solution on how to continue engaging students in 3D modeling.

Her solution turned out to be designing an online course using Google Classroom to create modules simulating educational 3D modeling content. By going this route, Delgado was able to remotely connect with new students all over the state expanding her reach and engagement in a subject she is passionate about.

Passion driven project

The project is extremely special to Delgado. “I have a passion for 3D modeling,” she said. “This passion originated from my internship with Neenan Archistruction where I first learned Sketch-Up as an undergraduate student in construction management at CSU.” She is thrilled to introduce students to the technology at an earlier age.

Zoom Classroom with Maria Delgado engaging with students in eastern coloradoBy engaging junior high and high school students with technology like Sketch-Up, it creates a unique opportunity for the students to be exposed to higher education at Colorado State University, as well as the interior architecture and design program.

Delgado designed these courses to give the students an understanding of 3D modeling but also the skillsets required to create models. This knowledge helps students understand spatial dimensions, focus on how products and buildings are designed and finally develop skillsets required to start designing in other ways as well.

“Allowing the students to get exposed to these new technologies is huge,” said Leslie Raffelson, a teacher in Peetz, Colorado. “It gives the students something real and tangible to learn from.”

In the classroom

Rendering of sketch-up house final productThe 3D modeling has allowed students to show off their creativity and apply it in their lives outside of school. A few of the students have taken elements of what they have learned on Sketch-Up and created their own designs. One student created a model rocket on Sketch-Up, printed it and launched.

“Technologies like Sketch-Up are difficult to get into on your own,” said Dan Hoppe, a social studies teacher at Caliche High School. “When Dr. Delgado offered the learning opportunity with her tutorials for the students to learn, I jumped on it.”

For teachers like Meghan Lowe, the science teacher at Haxtun High School, who offers a STEM course during 8th period, the course addresses a unique challenge where some students often miss the class due to sports and other activities. The videos that Delgado provided were excellent in still getting the knowledge to the students. The videos are self-paced allow the students to work autonomously.

Interior of the sketch-up houseAll the teachers working with Delgado remarked on how they plan to continue utilizing the videos in their curriculum and are looking for other ways to integrate Sketch-Up in their schools.

To learn more about the course impact, read the local article published in Sterling Journal-Advocate on the experience.

The future

For Delgado, this passion project has only begun its expansion. She originally started the program with just one school and over this year it has expanded to three. “I would like to cultivate the current connections I have made as well as scale-up the program. I want to expand this free online high school course to engage students across the state,” she said.

For now, there is a strong desire for Delgado to integrate an advanced course to continue engaging the students in STEM throughout their experience. As COVID safety protocols begin to loosen, Hoppe and Raffelson hope to be able to bring the students to the campus and see the Nancy Richardson Design Center and all the potential it holds for student’s future learning opportunities.

If you would like to learn more about the course, please email Delgado at

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.