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Enhancing experience and learning of first-year surveying engineering students with immersive virtual reality

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2019 FYEE Conference


Penn State University , Pennsylvania

Publication Date

July 28, 2019

Start Date

July 28, 2019

End Date

July 30, 2019

Conference Session

M1B: WIP - Learning Experiences 2

Tagged Topic

FYEE Conference - Paper Submission

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Paper Authors


Dimitrios Bolkas Penn State University, Wilkes-Barre Campus Orcid 16x16

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Dimitrios Bolkas, Ph.D., is currently an Assistant Professor of Surveying Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, Wilkes-Barre Campus. He has a diverse geodetic and geoscientific experience that includes terrestrial, mobile, and airborne laser scanning, digital elevation models, unmanned aerial systems, GNSS networks, geoid and gravity-field modeling. His main research interest is on building methods to increase, understand, and assess quality/uncertainty in 3D geospatial datasets. His research develops new methods and techniques to enhance functionality of 3D geospatial data and models. In addition, recent research interests include utilizing 3D data for creating realistic environments in immersive virtual reality, as well as the application of virtual reality in engineering education.

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Jeffrey Daniel Chiampi II The Pennsylvania State University

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Mr. Chiampi is a Lecturer of Computer Science and Mathematics at The Pennsylvania State University Wilkes-Barre campus. He holds master degrees in Business Administration and Software Engineering. He regularly teaches courses in computer science, game development, and information sciences and technology. Before coming to Penn State Mr. Chiampi worked in the information technology industry for over 10 years. His primary research interest is the application of Virtual Reality (VR) on engineering education. He recently received funding to create a VR lab to investigate the extent VR can be used to augment surveying education.

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Enhancing experience and learning of first-year surveying engineering student with immersive virtual reality

Dimitrios Bolkas (Penn State Wilkes-Barre) and Jeffery Chiampi (Penn State Wilkes-Barre)

This paper, a work in progress, focuses on the application of virtual reality on first-year Surveying Engineering laboratories. Students enrolled in the Surveying Engineering major at Penn State Wilkes-Barre take SUR 111 in the fall and SUR 162 in the spring. These courses have a primary objective to introduce students to surveying equipment, practices, and techniques for 3D data collection. Both courses contain an outdoor laboratory component with extensive use of surveying equipment. These activities are frequently affected by inclement weather (rain and snow), which leads to cancelled classes. This disrupts the educational process and limits the time students spend with the instruments. In addition, student training is constrained to the area surrounding the campus due to safety and transportation issues. This reduces students’ comprehension on how to apply techniques and use surveying instruments in real-world environments. To address these unique challenges, we are developing realistic surveying engineering laboratories in immersive virtual reality. Virtual reality can place students in imaginary or realistic environments. These environments create the feeling of being there while introducing students to new and diverse locations. Students can therefore interact with the same surveying equipment they use in the real-world. These environments can create scenarios typical students may not have have an opportunity to interact with. This paper focuses on data collection and modeling, using modern instrumentation and technologies such as 3D laser scanners and unmanned aerial systems, to create realistic environments that will be digital recreations of real ones. In addition, this paper discusses the creation of the surveying laboratories in virtual reality, including the challenges encountered in replicating surveying instruments. These virtual instruments need to be modeled to closely represent the appearance and functionality of their real-world counterparts. Furthermore, these virtual instruments must allow a student to intuitively interact with them given the primitive virtual reality user interface input options currently available. Supplementing and enhancing real laboratories with virtual ones can aid students with increasing their learning engagement and enhancing their surveying and engineering skills. A long-term goal of this study is to identify the role of virtual reality in surveying education and how it should be implemented to increase instructional efficiency. 3D data acquisition and modeling is an integral part of surveying education, therefore, exposure of students to virtual reality environments, created using modern surveying equipment and technologies (such as terrestrial laser scanning and unmanned aerial systems) can broaden the student’s awareness of the career capabilities of the surveying profession.

Bolkas, D., & Chiampi, J. D. (2019, July), Enhancing experience and learning of first-year surveying engineering students with immersive virtual reality Paper presented at 2019 FYEE Conference , Penn State University , Pennsylvania.

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