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Learning about Sensing Technologies with Interactive Holographics

CHCI Faculty (in bold): A. Akanmu, D. Bairaktarova, F. Jazizadeh, and D. Bowman

PhD. Student: Omobolanle Ogunseiju

This interdisciplinary project celebrates a collaboration among CHCI faculty in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Department of Computer Science.    

The Impact of Interactive Holographic Scenes in Developing Engineering Students' Competencies in Sensing Technologies (funded by the National Science Foundation Program on Improving Undergraduate STEM Education)

The rise in the adoption of sensing and visualization technologies in the construction industry has triggered a demand for graduating construction engineering and management engineers with such technical skill. Adequately empowering students with this skill is challenging because of limited access to construction sites due to safety, schedule and weather constraints. This study is creating and assessing a pedagogical framework for equipping construction engineering and management students with the competencies required for deploying data sensing technologies on construction projects. The framework involves projecting interactive holographic scenes and objects, a concept of mixed reality (MR), of construction sites and sensing technologies into the classroom environment, so that students can explore strategies for implementing the technologies for developing solutions to industry problems. The key questions to be addressed in this research are: (1) What are the core competencies expected of graduating CEM engineers in implementing visualization and sensing technologies in the construction industry? and (2) What is the value of the interactive holographic scenes in equipping graduating engineers with such competencies? 

The specific aims are: 

(1) To investigate core competencies expected of graduating construction engineering and management students in implementing visualization and sensing technologies; 

(2) To investigate the potential of holographic scenes to enhance learning of construction operations and sensing technology related courses; 

(3) To identify if individual differences in spatial skills and demographics influence the interaction with holographic scenes; and

(4) To formulate a sustained agenda to incorporate the use of holographic scenes in construction engineering and management courses.

Example of a Hologram

The project will establish a technical competency framework, which defines the knowledge, skills and abilities required of construction engineers employed to implement sensing technologies on construction projects. The project will provide an understanding of how learning with augmented three dimensional objects in the form of holograms, can enhance students’ technical competencies. The work will address a pressing issue of present and future imbalance between technological transformations in the construction industry and the future workforce. The technical competency framework will serve as a guide for developing: (1) a training program tailored towards improving existing workforce technical competencies and (2) an innovative construction engineering and management education curriculum. As part of the interactive holographic pedagogical tool, the research team is developing a model to characterize sensing technologies according to their potential applications on construction sites. This characterization will serve as toolboxes to aid students’ ability to select appropriate sensing systems. The resulting pedagogical framework is game-based, and the contribution includes learning analytics for assessment of student learning.

Example of Mixed Reality (MR) Learning Environment

This project utilizes innovations in the field of mixed reality to provide construction engineering and management students with field experiences in the application of sensing systems. Preparing the future technically competent workforce will advance innovation and creativity in industries that are currently adopting sensing technologies. Through the prepared workforce, this study also has implications for promoting technological awareness and opportunities in industries that are not currently adopting the technologies. Additionally, students can exploit the technical knowhow vacuum in the construction industries for entrepreneurship opportunities by setting up their training companies, thereby reducing unemployment and improving the nation’s economy. This study promotes academia-industry partnership by involving industry practitioners in the development of the proposed competencies and pedagogical approach. Although the specific learning activities being developed in the project are strongly grounded in construction engineering and management education, they can be adapted to improving STEM and K-12 programs. Specifically, the interactive holographic learning environment can be advantageous for inspiring K-12 students, including underrepresented students, to enter STEM fields.