February 4, 2021
As the global pandemic continues, the need for augmented and virtual reality in education grows. This technology is proving to not only benefit students but educators as well. Remote learning has become necessary to stay healthy, but standard methods of remote learning have their limitations, especially when it comes to STEM education. EETI continues to make strides in the implementation of this technology and cement its place in STEM education.
Students choose to study engineering because they want to solve real world problems, but the gap between textbook problem representation and real world problems dampens their motivation to persist in engineering. This project uses virtual and augmented reality to help engineering students visualize and interact with vivid, 3D, to-scale problems. Students can also interact with each other and their instructors in collaborative virtual worlds that function equally well at a distance or in person. By integrating digital writing tablets, students can demonstrate core problem solving skills such as writing equations and drawing model diagrams, and students will also gain the ability to record and play back their solutions and the solutions of others. Further, eye tracking technology enables new insights into how students solve these problems, providing the means for instructors to deliver tailored feedback. A collaboration between the Engineering Education Transformations Institute and the Department of Physics will enable integration of the technology into the Engineering Statics course and its prerequisite, Physics for Engineers. Students in both courses, taken by the majority of engineering majors, will have the opportunity to use the technology and to participate in research studies designed to refine the approach, with the goal of helping students connect their coursework to the real world throughout the core Engineering curriculum.