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Work in Progress: Moving from Outside to Inside - Traffic Engineering Field Exercises through Virtual Reality

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Your Best in 5 Minutes: Demonstrations of Hands-On and Virtual In-Class Teaching Aids

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Elizabeth G. Jones University of Nebraska, Lincoln Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Elizabeth G. “Libby” Jones is a civil engineering faculty member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Her areas of specialty are traffic engineering, appropriate technology, service learning, and engineering education. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University. Both her Masters of Science and Ph.D. were earned in Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked as a consulting engineer in Colorado and Texas. Prior to joining the UNL faculty, she was a faculty member at Union College in Schenectady, NY. Dr. Jones has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on over 25 research projects. She has authored or co-authored over 50 papers and served as committee chair for over 25 Masters and Doctoral students.

Since 2008, she has served as one of the faculty advisors for the University of Nebraska’s Chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA. Dr. Jones has received numerous awards for her leadership, mentoring and teaching including most recently the 2015 Holling Family Distinguished Teaching / Advising / Mentoring Award from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering and the 2014 Engineers Without Borders-USA Peter J. Bosscher Faculty Advisor Award for Outstanding Leadership.

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Mostafa Soltaninejad University of Nebraska, Lincoln Orcid 16x16

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Currently, I am a graduate student and studying Transportation Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. My research focuses on using 360 videos and virtual reality for laboratory teaching in traffic engineering. Previously, I have received my B.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering and M.Sc. degree in Highway and Transportation Engineering from Iran. The title of my M.Sc. thesis was “Feasibility of using coal waste powder in roller compacted concrete pavements”.

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Claudia Ponce de Leon

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Claudia Ponce de Leon is currently a junior studying civil engineering at Cornell University. She participated in the Nebraska Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates and is currently working on writing her own research proposal related to transportation in urban areas. She plans on pursuing a graduate degree in Civil Engineering.

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Traffic engineering is the study of how traffic operates and the design of systems, like traffic signals, to allow traffic to move safely and efficiently. The study of traffic engineering typically uses field observations of traffic. These field observations take place along highways and at intersections. Field observations have several issues including the exposure to traffic that could be hazardous, adverse weather conditions, and the variable nature of traffic. To overcome these challenges, video of traffic and microsimulation of traffic are often used (Kyte & Urbanik, 2012; PTV Vissim 10, 2017).

Recently, VR and 360 video are being used in educational settings (Ulrich et al, 2014; Pantelidis (2010)). Transportation engineering has used simulated virtual environments with driving simulators for a variety of research include work on driver behavior, driver safety, and pedestrian safety (NADS, 2017) and for driver training (Deb et al, 2017). The resources, in terms of equipment and space needed to support one person in the simulated virtual environment, are high. With the advent of Google Cardboard and YouTube support of 360 videos, along with the continuing price decline in VR systems and 360 cameras, wider use of VR for engineering education is now possible.

This paper presents work in progress to demonstrate the effectiveness of VR as an alternative to field laboratory exercises in transportation engineering. The work presented demonstrates how the experience of live field laboratory exercises have been translated to a virtual reality environment through the use of 360 video and a virtual reality viewing system. The planned work to compare student learning outcomes between live field exercises and VR exercises and to evaluate student attitudes of the two environments is also presented.

Jones, E. G., & Soltaninejad, M., & Ponce de Leon, C. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Moving from Outside to Inside - Traffic Engineering Field Exercises through Virtual Reality Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33576

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