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University of Dayton debuts new VR offering for civil engineers

Civil engineering students at the university are set to gain better learning opportunities through virtual reality (VR) technology.

The University of Dayton has a new VR laboratory for civil engineers, to expand their capabilities of learning. The new VR lab will be able to display lifelike digital versions of different structures to the students before even a brick is laid or any other step has been taken in real life. They can view and adjudge if the planning of a structure is proper, to ascertain if the project can go ahead without adjustments.

Named The Greg and Annie Stevens Intelligent Infrastructure Engineering Lab, the recently opened facility will help civil engineering aspirants get closer looks at structures before they are built.

The VR system requires students to feed blueprints to it, or they can also enter sensor data and computer-generated drawings. These are a step ahead of photographic mockups, as users get a virtual and 3D experience. Within the virtual structures, they can traverse through the walls, and roofs, and look at the layout from a wide variety of angles. The experience can be compared with that of 360-degree theatres.

Greg Stevens, a 1993 UD graduate with a B.S. in civil engineering, stated that he is optimistic about the recent funding received by the University going towards enhancing the technological capabilities of its educational infrastructure. This newly added modelling simulator and development hub will offer a special and technologically advanced resource for teaching the latest methodologies to modern design. Adhering to the time and cost limitations of major projects necessitates the construction of a structure within the virtual ecosystem.

Pupils can also check how environmental elements will impact the architecture inside the virtual reality facility.

Hui “Jack” Wang, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, University of Dayton, expressed that the only practical way to fly around an item in the physical world is to employ a drone, whereas, in a virtual space, the possibilities of exploring structures are a lot more, as users can thoroughly view structures, zoom in and zoom out from different parts of it, and do much more, provided that the data is available to them.

The VR lab might also be utilised for the purpose of change detection, which generally has to do with the comparison of the past and present stats of a structure in scenarios like a collapse, according to Robert Liang, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the university.

According to Wang, the students can better examine the effects of destruction more appropriately if they have a reference model prior to and after a quake. Additionally, this will make safety checks more secure for examiners since they will not have to enter a potentially unsafe structure or walk just above rubble piles during real-life rescue work scenarios.

In order to thoroughly explore the University’s Roger Glass Center for the Performing Arts, which is undergoing construction, UD students have begun using the VR lab.

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