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Board 83 : A Tale of the Robot: Will Virtual Reality Enhance Student Learning of Industrial Robotics?

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Design Graphics Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

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Paper Authors


Yi-hsiang Isaac Chang Illinois State University

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Dr. Yi-hsiang Chang is an assistant professor in the Department of Technology at Illinois State University. He received a MSME degree from Carnegie Mellon University, a MSIE degree and a PhD degree in Technology, both from Purdue University. Dr. Chang has worked with several international corporations including Boeing, DaimlerChrysler, and Dassualt Systemes, as well as multiple small to medium size companies in both US and Asia. His current field of focus is in product innovation, process improvement, and technology diffusion.

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Kevin L. Devine Illinois State University

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Kevin is the Program Coordinator for the Engineering Technology major at Illinois State University. His primary teaching assignments are in engineering graphics, industrial robotics, and CNC programming/machining.

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This work in progress paper describes an ongoing research project examining the feasibility of using consumer-graded virtual reality devices during the design verification stage of industrial robot programming. Modern industrial robot programming is often performed offline using graphics-based programming and simulation software. This computer aided design environment provides experienced robot programmers cost effective features to streamline the acquisition of work information, generate and debug the robot programs, and visually verify the code through simulation before sending to the actual robot for execution. However, these features might not benefit novice learners who do not fully understand robot programming. The cognitive workload resulting from eye-hand coordination (mouse movement corresponding to on-screen pointer action for object manipulation) and mental rotations (three dimensional object rotation in mental space) could distract the learners from paying attention to program errors such as object collisions or sudden robot movement due to robot axis singularity. The robot simulation might turn out to be just another video game to novice learners, and misconceptions can be formed easily.

In this study, we propose to use virtual reality (VR) as a tool during the robot cell design verification process to determine if the use of VR technology can improve the learner’s performance. The findings from the preliminary usage of VR devices for robot cell design verification are reported. The project is currently in the initial stage where frequent student learning problem areas caused by overlooking of the simulation results will be identified as the baseline. Later project stages will involve the development of a learning assessment tool. Next a clean virtual environment will be created to remove the distraction from the robot programming software, and specific tasks correlated to common program errors will be designed. Finally a full experience will be conducted and analyzed to see if there is a significant difference of learning performance between the VR and non-VR (desktop) environments. A theoretical framework will also be established to help explain the results. We conclude the paper with a summary and the outlook for future works.

Chang, Y. I., & Devine, K. L. (2018, June), Board 83 : A Tale of the Robot: Will Virtual Reality Enhance Student Learning of Industrial Robotics? Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30118

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