Students Experience Virtual Reality at McWhorter School of Building Science
After spending many years in the realm of ideas, Virtual Reality (VR) has now come of age. In addition to being a tool for visual exploration, it also addresses safety concerns for personnel on project sites.
Site visits for students in the building science program are problematic for a variety of reasons: concerns for their safety, require costly transportation, and often take students away from other class time. A recent study conducted with juniors and seniors by Professor Jeff Kim tested the effectiveness of using virtual reality in the classroom as a supplement or replacement for construction site visits. The virtual reality experience allows the students to experience the project from the classroom, and allows the instructor more control within that experience.
Students were asked to wear a virtual reality goggle that used a common smartphone to project a 3D image of a 360 degree view a construction project site. They were then allowed ten minutes to move around the site and explore any area that was of interest to them. Following the site visit they offered their feedback about the experience (in a survey) that was used to determine the overall effectiveness of the tool.
“Generally, comments to the experience were favorable,” said Kim. “They provide an early indication that virtual reality could be used for construction site visits.” Kim sees this technology being useful to the construction industry, “it demonstrates an excellent method for training employees and trade crafts on various task and situational issues, without the risks of safety to person and property,” he added.