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Virtual Reality In The Chemical Engineering Classroom

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.626.1 - 3.626.11



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Paper Authors

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John T. Bell

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H. Scott Fogler

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

Session 3513

Virtual Reality in The Chemical Engineering Classroom John T. Bell, H. Scott Fogler Department of Chemical Engineering University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 48109-2136

I. Background

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, VR, is an emerging computer interface that utilizes immersive interactive three- dimensional graphics as well as audio, psychology, special hardware, and numerous other mechanisms to produce simulations so realistic that users believe ( if only for a few moments ) that what they are experiencing is “real” [1]. In addition to high-speed graphics, VR can be enhanced through wired clothing, body tracking sensors, tactile and force feedback systems, spatialized sound, and even olfactory displays. Some of the earliest uses of VR have been in medical and military applications, where budgets are large and the consequences of even small errors are sufficient to justify the expense of high-quality equipment and initial software development. More recently VR has been used for computational fluid dynamics visualization, operator training, construction engineering, maintenance planning, and EPA site remediation.

Although high quality VR still requires prohibitively expensive computers and equipment, it is now possible to deliver VR simulations of a somewhat lower quality on student affordable personal computers. This opens the door to the initial development of VR modules for educational purposes, and as the capabilities of personal computers continue to grow, so will the overall quality of educational VR programs.

In order to explore the potential of educational VR, a number of modules have been created at the University of Michigan. The specific goals in developing these modules are threefold:

1. To produce modules with as much practical use to as many students as possible. 2. To determine the optimal applicability of virtual reality to engineering education. 3. To develop a knowledge base of techniques for the display of, and interaction with, scientific and technological information and concepts in a virtual world, that can later be applied to practical engineering problems

This paper will discuss the current status of these modules, with emphasis on developments that have occurred since 1996 publications [2-3], and on implementation guidelines for educators who may wish to use the modules. Instructions are provided at the end of this paper on how to download the modules free of charge via the world wide web and how to install and run the modules. Recommended and optional computer hardware and peripherals are also discussed.

Bell, J. T., & Fogler, H. S. (1998, June), Virtual Reality In The Chemical Engineering Classroom Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7523

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