While students may recognize him as one of the giants roaming campus at 6-feet-5-inches tall with size 18 shoes, senior Nick Gonzalez spends most of his time appearing four feet tall – that is, when he’s sitting down model-making.
Gonzalez’s dad first introduced him to model-making when he was seven years old. “I never really took it up since I was more interested in other stuff like cartoons at the time, but I recently got into it,” he said. “I was so stressed with the constant motion of high school, so it was nice to just sit down and relax. You build it all together; you paint it; you own it, nobody tells you what you do or how to do it.”
Though he typically uses model-making as a stress reliever, Gonzalez began entering competitions a few months ago. “I’m in three group builds right now, which means that a bunch of people and I choose a theme and separately build models based on it,” he said.
Gonzalez pours his energy into this passion, working on models over spans of days and weeks. “They take several hours,” he said. “My most recent one, a German Fantan tank, took about 30 hours over the course of a few weeks, usually over the weekends, when I can throw in six hours at a time. All while making models, I’m talking with my friends or watching movies. You paint a layer, you let it dry, then you come back later and do it all over again; it’s pretty relaxed.”
“I’m pretty interested in history, particularly military history,” Gonzalez said. “The thing I want to do for college is cybersecurity which I look at as the new future of warfare. Back in the day, we saw the invention of the airplane, steamboats and tanks. I look at history, and I see what people did to change technology and how others reacted to them. Now, not only do we have land, air and sea, but also now we have a cyber side. When you look towards history, you find answers to the future.”
Gonzalez plans on majoring in Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida (USF). “You can apply cybersecurity to real life, transforming inputs in a computer into actual security,” Gonzalez said. “This goes into my model making where I’m taking a piece of history and rendering it into real life, capturing a moment in time. That also ties into my photography – capturing real moments.”
Although model-making itself is typically a solitary activity, Gonzalez has found a large community online and hopes to join the International Classic Modeling Society at USF. “When it comes to modeling, there are surprisingly a lot of people out there, and you can go back and forth and say, ‘Hey, I built this,’ or share your pictures or how you’ve done in competitions,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez’s interests in history and tiny recreations of the past’s tools of destruction converge to create a curiosity for the new frontier of technology, keeping him rooted in both the past and future while giving him a unique perspective on modern-day issues.