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Fostering Virtual Reality Environments to Advance Construction and Engineering Students’ Interpersonal Skills

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Construction Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Divisions

Architectural Engineering and Construction Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

13

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34686

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34686

Download Count

98

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Paper Authors

biography

Piyush Pradhananga

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Piyush Pradhananga is a Ph.D. student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Florida International University (FIU). Piyush holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Tribhuwan University (TU). Following his graduation in 2016, he joined a leading real estate corporation in Nepal as the site engineer working on a multi-million project. He later joined a research firm based in London where he worked as an Engineering Graduate Researcher. Piyush is currently a Graduate Research Assistant at the Moss School of Construction, Sustainability, and Infrastructure at FIU where he focuses on multidisciplinary research that harmonizes sustainability in construction. His other research interests include Sustainable Construction, Construction Safety, Engineering Education, Green Building, and Energy Efficiency Measures.

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Mohamed ElZomor Florida International University

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Dr. Mohamed ElZomor is an Assistant Professor at Florida International University (FIU), College of Engineering and Computing and teaches at the Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability. Dr. ElZomor completed his doctorate at Arizona State University (ASU), Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Prior to attending ASU, Dr. ElZomor received a master’s of science degree in Architecture from University of Arizona, a master’s degree in Engineering and a bachelor of science in Construction Engineering from American University in Cairo. Dr. ElZomor moved to FIU from State University of New York, where he was an Assistant Professor at the college of Environmental Science and Forestry. Mohamed’s work focuses on Sustainability of the Built Environment, Engineering Education, Construction Engineering, Energy Efficiency Measures and Modeling, Project Management, and Infrastructure Resilience. Dr. ElZomor has extensive professional project management experience as well as a diverse cross-disciplinary academic knowledge. Mohamed, distinct expertise supports fostering interdisciplinary research in addition to embracing innovative pedagogical approaches in STEM education. Dr. ElZomor has been integrating innovative and novel educational paradigms in STEM education to support student engagement, retention, and diversity.

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biography

Gabriella Santi

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Gabriella Santi grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, where she pursued her Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering at the Universidad Metropolitana. After graduating, she worked for two years in a construction company where she was involved in various residential and infrastructure projects. As her interests shifted towards construction management, she then moved to Miami, Florida to pursue a master's degree in the Construction Management program at Florida International University. During her Master's program, she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at Moss School of Construction Management, researching various topics related to sustainability in third world countries, robotic implementation in the construction industry and aiding STEM majors to improve their professional skills.

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biography

Lu Zhang Florida International University

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Dr. Lu Zhang is an Assistant Professor in the Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability at Florida International University. She earned her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering with a specialization in Construction Management from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She holds a Master of Engineering degree in Construction Engineering and Management from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from Tongji University, China. Dr. Zhang’s research interests include human-building interactions, human-centered value analysis, smart buildings and cities, resilient infrastructure systems, building and civil information modeling, and semantic information modeling. Her research work is funded by multiple agencies, including National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Transportation, Accelerated Bridge Construction-University Transportation Center, Engineering Information Foundation, and Natural Hazards Center.

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Abstract

From providing access to clean water to managing large-scale infrastructure projects, the grand challenges that construction managers face in the modern world are equally technical and professional. To overcome these challenges, such aspiring professionals must not only become experts on the technical aspects of their specific field but also develop their soft skills to enable leveraging their technical knowledge in an evolving, increasingly complex and globalized work environment. However, these skills have become stifled, as the typical construction management (CM) graduate spends approximately four years building her/his technical expertise, with little to no time devoted to communication training. For this reason, this research seeks to integrate an objective communication activity in CM curricula that make up for this gap. This research has proven to advance CM students’ formal communication skills by creating an engaging educational environment through Virtual Reality (VR) presentation simulations. An initial benchmark survey was administered to 327 STEM students at a minority serving institution, to understand the impact of students’ socio-demographics on their presentation skills. Then, a pilot study was offered to 60 CM students, in which they were required to participate in VR Presentation Simulation Trainings. To analyze students’ presentation skills improvement through the VR-activity, the authors conducted peer evaluations for pre and post-activity presentations. Additionally, after the VR activity, the authors conducted an exit survey, obtaining the students’ perception of the activity. The data obtained from the different surveys and evaluations allowed the authors to (1) develop an ordered probit regression model to understand the influence of several factors such as academic level, gender, first-generation and international status; (2) identify the major deficiencies in CM students' communication and presentation skills; and (3) assess the effects of VR-based presentation simulations on CM students’ presentation skills. The results provide valuable feedback and insight into the implementation of alternative learning pedagogies that integrate students’ development skills in addition to technical contents.

Pradhananga, P., & ElZomor, M., & Santi, G., & Zhang, L. (2020, June), Fostering Virtual Reality Environments to Advance Construction and Engineering Students’ Interpersonal Skills Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34686

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