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Using Virtual Reality To Improve Construction Engineering Education

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Construction Engineering Advances I

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1266.1 - 8.1266.9



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Paper Authors

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Vaughn Whisker

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Sai Yerrapathruni

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John Messner

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Anthony Baratta

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

Session 1121

Using Virtual Reality to Improve Construction Engineering Education

John I. Messner, Sai C. M. Yerrapathruni, Anthony J. Baratta, and Vaughn E. Whisker The Pennsylvania State University


This paper presents ongoing research to improve construction education through the use of virtual reality and 4D CAD modeling (3D design plus time) of construction processes and projects. We have implemented 4D CAD modeling into our undergraduate Architectural Engineering program. We are also experimenting with the use of immersive virtual reality and have developed a tool that allows construction engineering students to interactively generate a construction sequence for a project in an immersive environment. The results of these educational initiatives were assessed through two experiments. The first experiment assessed the educational value of having students develop 4D CAD models for a building project. The second experiment was a preliminary study to determine the educational value of immersing students in a virtual construction project and allowing them to develop a construction plan for the facility.

The results of these experiments suggest that students can understand construction projects and plans much better when advanced visualization tools are used. The conclusions from the immersive virtual reality experiment suggest that students can very quickly gain experience by developing and critiquing construction schedules in a full-scale virtual environment. The students were also very engaged by this type of interactive learning experience. We envision important applications of this type of learning environment to improve construction education through the use of different case study projects. By using virtual reality, we can supplement actual construction site visits with virtual, interactive site experiences. These experiences will allow students to experiment with different construction sequences, temporary facility locations, trade coordination, safety issue identification, and design improvements for constructability.

1. Introduction

Students in Civil and Architectural Engineering programs currently learn to analyze the designs for building and infrastructure projects and plan their construction by reviewing 2D project design drawings and by developing construction cost estimates and schedules. While some designs are generated in 3-dimensional Computer Aided Design (3D CAD) format, few advanced visualization techniques are used in higher education. For example, educators tend to use 2D drawings and Critical Path Method (CPM) schedules to discuss project planning. These visualization tools limit the students’ ability to comprehend the impact of design and planning

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Whisker, V., & Yerrapathruni, S., & Messner, J., & Baratta, A. (2003, June), Using Virtual Reality To Improve Construction Engineering Education Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11970

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