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SD Mines Lands Grant to Bring Augmented Reality into the Science and Engineering Classroom

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has received a new mobile computing grant to develop and bring augmented or mixed reality into the classroom. Classical virtual reality is an immersive, virtual environment which is not ideal for the classroom. Newer augmented reality devices can overlay objects on a user’s actual surroundings, allowing students to collaborate with each other and interact with faculty and virtual objects in real time. In addition, virtual reality can cause motion sickness with extended use, whereas augmented reality allows for prolonged sessions before motion sickness or eye fatigue sets in.

The grant has the potential to allow:

  • Civil engineering students to see an X-ray view of a building, stripping away the walls and roof to see plumbing, electrical or HVAC components and how all of those the components interact​
  • Math students to visualize complicated 3-D objects and move them in space
  • Industrial engineering students to draw on engineering designs and set up virtual assembly lines to figure out how to mass-produce objects in a factory setting
  • Computer science students to “see” from a robot’s perspective and test things like navigation without the need for an actual, expensive robot
  • Mechanical engineering students to gain greater understanding of the design of 3-D objects and why certain designs are effective
  • Humanities students to see literature come to life, explore virtual museums, and visualize the parts of their essays as 3-D blocks in order to think about essays’ shape
  • All students to 3-D print complicated parts virtually, for drones or a Baja car for example, before actually printing them, to see how all the parts fit together

The first phase of the grant will include purchasing the gear, such as Microsoft’s Hololens, and developing the technology to ensure standardized performance, meaning the augmented reality application works on all platforms and software – Android and iOS devices, as well as industry-specific software like Maple or SolidWorks.

Phase two will bring the augmented reality into the classroom. Augmented reality tags – like a QR code – can then be embedded in notebooks, textbooks or on paper on classroom desks to allow students to see the objects through their phone or viewing device.

Faculty Ph.Ds. on the grant include: Principal investigator Jeff McGough, math and computer science, and co-principal investigators King Adkins, humanities, Shaobo Huang, mechanical engineering, Christer Karlsson, math and computer science, Adam Piper, industrial engineering, and Brent Deschamp, math and computer science.

About SD Mines

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,859 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate for graduates is 96 percent, with an average starting salary of $62,929.

Author: VR Reporter

I am a hi-tech enthusiast, VR evangelist, and a Co-founder & Chief Director at Virtual Reality Reporter!

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