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Classroom Education Using Animation and Virtual Reality of the Great Wall of China in Jinshanling

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Engineering Design Graphics Division Technical Session 1: Instructional

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

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Paper Authors


Jin Rong Yang Ohio State University

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Jin Yang is a Ph.D. candidate at The Ohio State University. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from The Ohio State University. He has also worked as a construction inspector for the City of Columbus. Jin is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering with a focus in virtual reality on ancient structures.

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Fabian Hadipriono Tan P.E. Ohio State University

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Fabian Hadipriono Tan has worked in the areas of construction of infrastructures and buildings, failure assessment of buildings and bridges, construction accident investigations, forensic engineering, ancient buildings, ancient bridges, and the ancient history of science and engineering for over 40 years. The tools he uses include fault tree analysis, fuzzy logic, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

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Adrian Hadipriono Tan Ohio State University

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Dr. Adrian H. Tan is a Ph.D. alumnus of the Ohio State University. Adrian has a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the Ohio State University. Adrian's Ph.D. work was in civil engineering and construction with a focus on computer graphics and virtual simulation in the engineering industry.

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Michael Parke Ohio State University

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Dr. Parke has over twenty years experience in satellite based earth science research. He has been teaching first year engineering for the past eighteen years, with emphasis on computer aided design, computer programming, and project design and documentation.

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The field of virtual reality (VR) has provided many useful aids in the academic setting due to the user-friendly control of realistically immersive 3D simulation. Some examples include virtual simulation (e.g., simulation of a medical surgery for medical students), component and environment construction (e.g., assembly of an automotive engine for mechanical engineering students), and data visualization (e.g., a virtual building site project for construction engineering students). However, certain specific avenues of study have yet to catch up with education as a whole with regards to such innovations, so rectifying this could be instrumental for topics where these innovations could be invaluable – especially in the engineering sector. For example, there is little research on the use of virtual reality in the education on ancient construction engineering, as most applications tend to focus on modern works of construction. For this specific reason, this research concerns a state-of-the-art virtual reality simulation of the ancient construction methods of the Jinshanling region of the Great Wall of China, which collects and presents the most up-to-date information regarding these processes, as a case study for classroom education. The virtual environment described in this paper allows the students to view the construction method of the Great Wall from different angles and analyze this process more clearly, compared to traditional photos or static digital modeling images. The use of VR is relevant to modelling the originally constructed structure from the currently damaged condition of the wall. The Jinshanling section of the Great Wall is located in the Luanping County of Hebei, China. This section of the wall was first built in the beginning of the Ming Dynasty in AD 1368, and later renovated in approximately AD 1569; it comprised the closest section of the wall to Beijing (China’s capital during the Ming Dynasty), a mere 150 km away from the capital, thus requiring reinforcement against invasion. This explains the complex construction methods of this Jinshanling section – an outer layer of foundation stones and bricks and an inner layer of rubbles and rammed earth.

The data used for the modeling processes was obtained from measurements taken from both site visits and literature search. The authors used Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD design software to reconstruct the damaged monument in a piecewise, bottom-up fashion, since SOLIDWORKS has an excellent display on curved surfaces and thus has an outstanding animated visualization of the step-by-step construction process. The SOLIDWORKS assembly also verified which sequences of construction were most logical. SketchUp (with Google Earth) was used for extraction of the existing terrain of the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. The final 3D assembly along with the terrain were transferred to and coded in Unity (a gaming engine) to create a VR simulation using the Oculus Rift (a VR headset) and an Xbox controller, allowing students to examine the construction process in a virtual environment. A walkthrough of the wall would allow students to inspect the wall in a virtual environment. Thus, this study is expected to allow students to immerse themselves in the virtual erection process of ancient structures in a classroom setting.

Yang, J. R., & Tan, F. H., & Tan, A. H., & Parke, M. (2017, June), Classroom Education Using Animation and Virtual Reality of the Great Wall of China in Jinshanling Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28035

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