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Immersive Collaborative Laboratory Simulations Using A Gaming Engine

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Programming for Engineering Students

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.715.1 - 11.715.10



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Paper Authors


Chenghung Chang Stevens Institute of Technology

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Mr. Chenghung Paul Chang is currently a Research Assistant at Stevens Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in 2005. His research includes alternatives to traditional methods of administering laboratory experiments, including remote experiments and virtual experimental simulations.

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Dror Kodman Stevens Institute of Technology

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Mr. Dror Kodman received a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2001. Currently, he is completing his studies for a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He has professional experience in a variety of design fields such as architecture, exhibit design, as well as new media and graphics design and has research interests in the fields of gaming technology and computational fluid dynamics.

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Sven Esche Stevens Institute of Technology

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Dr. Sven K. Esche is currently holding a position as Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. In 1989, he received an undergraduate degree in Applied Mechanics from Chemnitz University of Technology (Germany). After working for three years at Mercedes Benz AG in Stuttgart (Germany), he obtained M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA in 1994 and 1997, respectively. His current research interests include multi-scale modeling of thermo-mechanical processing of metals, integrated product and process design under conditions of uncertainty and risk as well as remote sensing and control of distributed devices with special focus on remote laboratories.

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Constantin Chassapis Stevens Institute of Technology

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Dr. Constantin Chassapis is a Professor and the Director of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Stevens Institute of Technology. His research interests are in knowledge-based engineering systems; computer-aided design and manufacturing; structure-property modeling and characterization of polymers and polymer composites as well as in remotely controlled distributed systems. He has been an active member in ASME and SPE, and he has received a best paper award from SPE’s Injection Molding Division, the distinguished Assistant Professor Award at Stevens Institute of Technology, an Honorary Master’s Degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, and the Tau Beta Pi Academic Excellence Award.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Immersive Collaborative Laboratory Simulations Using a Game Engine Abstract

This paper discusses the possibility of using a commercial game engine, such as the “Source” engine used in “Half-Life 2”, to implement an immersive and collaborative virtual laboratory environment that will enable multiple students to perform educational laboratory experiment simulations. These simulations will involve real-time student interaction through a computer network, and they will benefit the students by stimulating the different modalities of learning, i.e. visual, audio, read/write and kinesthetic.

By using an existing commercial computer game engine, the need for creating from the ground up the components that are combined into an interactive virtual world is eliminated. Instead of expanding extensive resources on developing the underlying visual, audio and logistical system infrastructure, the main attention can be focused on those features that facilitate student learning, such as high levels of interactivity, significant collaboration between the students and their feeling of immersion. It is postulated that such laboratory environments can be tailored so as to actively engage the students, foster their desire to learn more about the experiment and its underlying theories, make them feel like they are essential to carrying out the experiments as a group and to feel comfortable in such virtual environments.

This multi-disciplinary research is being carried out at Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) with funding from a multi-year grant by the National Science Foundation’s Information Technology Research program1.

Key words – Laboratory education; virtual laboratory; virtual experiment; collaborative virtual environment; virtual reality; game engine; Source Engine.


In the computer gaming world, there is a constant demand for increasingly realistic gaming experiences that incorporate high fidelity graphics, real-time physics engines and innovative interactive game playing. By setting the bar so high, a very intense competition in terms of both hardware and software is fueled within the industry, which generated sales of over $7 billion in 2004.2 The current state of raw computing power, graphics hardware technology and game software complexity have evolved to the point where low-end personal computers have the potential to run and render environments that are encroaching upon the borderlines of reality. Coupled with a publicly available game Software Development Kit (SDK), what results from this development is the ability for users to create their own customized 3-D environments, then have a game engine render them in such a way that the users are enabled to realistically explore the environment via first person perspective and interact with the environment.

Alternate uses of these gaming technologies other than for pure entertainment purposes are emerging and becoming increasingly prevalent. Research is currently being conducted at SIT to incorporate such gaming technologies into educational laboratory experiments.

Chang, C., & Kodman, D., & Esche, S., & Chassapis, C. (2006, June), Immersive Collaborative Laboratory Simulations Using A Gaming Engine Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--889

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