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Using Virtual Reality Tools In Design And Technical Graphics Curricula

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1436.1 - 10.1436.11



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Paper Authors

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Shana Smith

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

1526 Using Virtual Reality Tools in Design and Technical Graphics Curricula: An Experience in Learning

Shana Smith1, Kay Taylor2, Travis Green3, Neil Peterson4, Cynthia Garrety1 1 Iowa State University 2 State University of New York, SUNY Fredonia 3 Des Moines Area Community College 4 Iowa Central Community College


Three-dimensional visualization ability, to a great extent, determines students’ performance in design and technical graphics courses. Prior research shows that 3-D visualization ability greatly influences students’ future career success in science, engineering, and technology (McKim, 1980; Norman, 1994; Pleck et al., 1990). Students without sufficient 3-D perception ability may become frustrated and drop out of CAD programs, or may be advised to pursue studies in areas that do not require CAD skills. However, if students could improve and gain confidence in their 3-D visualization skills, they would enjoy CAD instruction more and become more engaged. Fortunately, prior research also shows that visualization is a skill that can be learned, developed, and improved with proper instruction and methods (Bishop, 1973; Gagon, 1985; McKim, 1980). Thus, to help our students remain in and succeed in CAD programs and to succeed in their future careers, it is essential to find effective methods for delivering graphics concepts and for enhancing student 3-D spatial visualization skills.

One way to enhance students’ ability to visualize 3-D objects is to make their experience of the objects as realistic as possible while learning. Recently, virtual reality has brought learners closer to a natural learning environment. VR immerses viewers in computer-generated stereoscopic environments. Using special equipment such as data gloves and joysticks, users can interact directly, and more realistically, with virtual models in a virtual environment.

In industry, VR has proven to be an effective tool for worker training and helping designers evaluate product designs. For example, GE Corporation used VR to determine part removal paths for machine maintenance (Abshire & Barron, 1998). Motorola developed a VR system for training workers to run a pager assembly line, and they discovered that participants trained in VR environments perform better on the job than those trained for the same time in real environments (Wittenberg, 1995).

In academia, the potential of VR has especially drawn the interest of mathematics and science educators. Several prior experiments have shown that VR can help students understand abstract

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Smith, S. (2005, June), Using Virtual Reality Tools In Design And Technical Graphics Curricula Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15575

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