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Facilitating Collaborative Engineering Analysis Problem Solving in Immersive Virtual Reality

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Technical Session 3: The Best of Computers in Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Alexander James Tuttle University of Georgia

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Alexander Tuttle is an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia majoring in Computer Systems Engineering. He works in Dr. Kyle Johnsen's Virtual Experiences Laboratory where he develops and researches various Virtual Reality applications.

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Siddharth Savadatti University of Georgia

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Dr. Siddharth Savadatti received his PhD in Computational Mechanics from North Carolina State University in 2011 and has since been on the faculty of the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia. He teaches mechanics and numerical methods courses such as Statics, Fluid Mechanics, Programming, Numerical Methods for Engineers and Finite Element Analysis. In addition to traditional face-to-face classes, he has designed and taught courses in fully online and completely flipped formats.

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Kyle Johnsen University of Georgia

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Kyle Johnsen is an Associate Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia. Dr. Johnsen joined the University of Georgia in 2008 after earning his PhD in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida. His research focuses on emerging human-computer interaction technologies for health, education, and the environment.

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This work addresses barriers to the adoption of immersive virtual reality within engineering education. A virtual classroom is described that affords users enhanced viewing and interaction with 3D objects, while retaining educational supports for drawing, writing, and collaboration with others in the same virtual space. A didactic example of this approach is provided for use in an engineering statics course. To evaluate this concept, two traditional problems were developed that involved the analysis of 3D objects presented with the problems. A pilot study involving 19 student participants, in pairs or individually, solved these problems, with one requiring physical measurement of problem variables, entirely within the virtual classroom. Analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data collected during the study suggests that this platform is a viable means to introduce 3D graphics and interaction to the engineering classroom. Participants were highly engaged by the approach, praised the introduction of 3D graphics, and were able to use the technology, despite being unfamiliar, within minutes. Though student performance was ostensibly worse that when solving ordinary textbook problems on paper, it was well within expectations due to the increased complexity of the approach, both technologically and pedagogically. If the platform and approach were used more comprehensively throughout such a course, particularly one already offered in a distance-education format, performance on these sorts of problems would likely improve. Technology improvements that are on the near horizon will support this evaluation and together may represent an may represent a significant inflection point in the cost-effectiveness curve of immersive virtual reality for engineering education leading to widespread adoption.

Tuttle, A. J., & Savadatti, S., & Johnsen, K. (2019, June), Facilitating Collaborative Engineering Analysis Problem Solving in Immersive Virtual Reality Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32830

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