Lessons in Engineering: Is Virtual Reality the Future of Education?

21/10/2016
With technology evolving quickly, virtual reality is being utilised as an educational tool in engineering schools to provide students with 3D visuals that allow for a more optimised design.

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The automotive industry and virtual reality have developed a close relationship in the past years, with Audi investing in the technology. In education, this technology helps to find flaws and weaknesses at a much quicker pace. Students develop their understanding of how projects will work after being complete, and they explore various industrial environments that allow them to develop skills they otherwise would be unable to.

Virtual Reality Laboratory

At the London South Bank University students have a virtual engineering laboratory with a virtual reality auditorium, a rapid prototyping and post-production area, a project-based learning laboratory, a digital factory, and a head-mounted display suite. Through the use of headsets in the display suite, students explore their projects in a virtual reality world and are able to alter it easily.

The virtual reality laboratory aims to “give students a hands-on experience of using Virtual Reality as a development tool, as this technology changes the way we interact not only with our designs, but with our colleagues too.” The Academic Director within the School of Engineering, Tony Roberts, adds that creative solutions are developed when engineering students are challenged through the use of these technologies.

Designed by Virtalis, the head-mounted display suite is a combination of CAD design and virtual reality allowing students to interact with each other while improving their designs.

MIDEN, Building 3D Models

Having a thorough insight into how structures work is vital in engineering; the understanding of their overall interaction and collapse allows for engineers to build sturdy and safe structures. At the University of Michigan, students utilise a virtual reality cave that constructs 3D steel structures on a 10×10 screen enclosure.

The virtual reality cave allows for ease of alteration of structures through the use of the controller and headset. By being able to manipulate the physical orientation of the structures, students aren’t limited to a stationary model. The MIDEN virtual reality cave represents a rising trend in optimisation of engineering study and project construction.

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