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Usability of a Collaborative Virtual Reality Environment Earthwork Exercises

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

BIM and Virtual Construction Environments

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1405.1 - 25.1405.12



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Paper Authors

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Lacey Duckworth


Tulio Sulbaran University of Southern Mississippi

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Tulio Sulbaran received his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology with a concentration in construction management and with a minor in computer engineering and strong statistical background. He has more than eight years of work experience in the A/E/C (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry with office and field experience in scheduling, estimating, and project management in the United States and several international locations, including Venezuela, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand. Sulbaran is an accomplished teacher and has taught a variety of construction courses, including Construction Planning and Scheduling, Construction Project Management, Cost Estimating I, Project Control, Proposal Preparation, and Project Implementation, among others. Sulbaran received the prestigious John Trimmer Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010. Sulbaran engages students in learning activities inside and outside the classroom continuously advocating hands-on experience and collaborative learning. He has been in the forefront of online teaching, and he was one of the pioneers in delivering online courses in the School of Construction. He established the Study Abroad program in Panama at the University of Southern Mississippi. Sulbaran led the effort to establish the newly created master's of science in logistics, trade, and transportation (MSLTT), and he is currently leading the effort to put the MSLTT fully online to further the educational reach of the university. Sulbaran has the best externally funded projects track record of the School of Construction. He has submitted as PI/Co-PI more than 100 proposals and has been awarded more than 40 externally funded projects, totaling more than $10 million. Additionally, he has been collaborator in multi-million, multi-institution proposals with institutions in the United States and abroad. Sulbaran has received funding from several organizations, such as the National Science Foundation, Mississippi Department of Transportation, Transportation Research Board, Northrop Grumman, Mississippi Development Authority, Army Corp of Engineers, and Department of Health and Human Services among others. Sulbaran founded the Center for Logistics, Trade, and Transportation, and all of his projects have supported and benefit from talented graduate and/or undergraduate students from a variety of academic units in the university. Sulbaran has been very prolific in the area of scholarship and research. He has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed national/international publications, written several books, and made more than 100 professional presentations nationally and internationally. Sulbaran’s manuscripts have been published in the International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society, the International Journal of Virtual Reality, the Journal of Marketing Education, the Marketing Education Review Journal, the IEEE- Frontiers in Education, and the American Society of Engineering Education Proceedings, among others. Sulbaran has contributed significantly to his discipline through his service activities. His leadership on several key organizations has reflected very favorably on the university. Sulbaran is the first and only faculty of the University to hold a Board of Trustee position in the American Council for Construction Education. He is also the first and only faculty serving as the Editor for the Associated Schools of Construction proceedings. Sulbaran has served in multiple university committees, such as the I-TECH Customer Service Council, the CoST Research Award Committee, the CoST Scholarship Committee, and the SoC Accreditation Committee, among others.

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Andrew Peter Strelzoff University of Southern Mississippi

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Usability of a Collaborative Virtual Reality Environment Earthwork ExercisesAbstractA variety of visualization mediums are needed to help students comprehend a subjectmatter. Current visualization mediums include graphs, drawings, and various other twodimensional visual aids. While these mediums work for some students, others tend toneed a better visual to reiterate the concept. For example, students in buildingconstruction management courses depend on pen and paper pedagogy to learn how toproperly excavate a project site. Using pen and paper, these students answer questionsand get a response based on their answers in a form of a grade. According to the UnitedStates Department of Labor, excavating is "one of the most hazardous constructionoperations" (United States Department of Labor, 2011) which means students need abetter visualization than the grade as a result of the wrong choices of how to make theexcavation. For example, if the student was asked to use the Occupational Safety andHealth Administration (OSHA) rules in order to select the correct slope method for anexcavation in a given soil type they would simply select an answer based on theirunderstanding of OSHA soil types and excavation methods. The result of their answerusing the current pen and paper pedagogy would be either a red mark indicating theincorrect answer which would result in a grade deduction or a check mark indicating thecorrect answer without a deduction in grade. In real life, the consequence of selecting thewrong method of excavation would be more dangerous as it could cause a collapseresulting in employee injury (United States Department of Labor, 2011)The visual of a right or wrong answer that is provided to the student could be improvedby using a growing field in technology, simulations in Collaborative Virtual RealityEnvironments (CVRE). Simulations in CVRE provide the ability to implement anexcavation training simulator in a CVRE so that students could receive a visual andimmediate form of feedback in order to see how their answer could impact the excavationmethod they select. In addition to providing the students with feedback, they can alsointeract with other students or professor in order to discuss the meaning of the differentmethods or can be shown the right and wrong method through professor guidedexamples. While excavation training simulators exist, including the Southwest ResearchInstitute's Excavator Operator Training Simulator and The University of Hong KongimseCAVE, they were implemented using methods that might not provide the ability toquickly add features to the simulation while addressing the breadth and depth ofimmersion so the student will feel as if he or she is at the actual job site (Fisher, 2008,Chan, 2004, & Strickland, 2007). In order to prove that an excavation training simulatorcan act as a positive visual aid, it first must be usable. This paper discusses implementingand determining the usability of an excavation training simulator for Perdue University.

Duckworth, L., & Sulbaran, T., & Strelzoff, A. P. (2012, June), Usability of a Collaborative Virtual Reality Environment Earthwork Exercises Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22162

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