Undergraduate In-class Participation in Advanced
To demonstrate how elective classes can be used to involve undergraduate
engineering students in advanced engineering research..
To utilize the structure of an experimental class to impart to undergraduate students a better understanding of advanced engineering research than is possible in a traditional class.
To encourage enrolled students to consider careers in advanced engineering research.
To determine the feasibility and potential of using augmented reality as
an educational technology technique in engineering education.
To enable students to participate in the design and construction of a
demonstration testbed augmented reality facility.
To build a full-scale, augmented reality testbed by September 1995, and
to use the testbed to complete a working prototype of an augmented reality
system by the end of May, 1996.
To evaluate the class experience, with particular attention to how well goals 2
-- 5 were met.
To disseminate results of the project, including evaluation, in a report
to NSF-Gateway, in a peer-reviewed journal, and at a nationally prominent
engineering education conference.
The Undergraduate Participation project aims to show how engineering
students can participate in advanced research in a classroom setting. Our
advanced research topic is the development of an augmented reality testbed
for improving spaceframe construction procedures. (Augmented reality refers in this context to the use of a head-worn computer interface, featuring
a see through display that superposes visual information over a worker's
naturally occurring view and a set of headphones.
The augmented reality testbed project is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring
the participation of both building science and computer science researchers.
In addition to this academic collaboration, the project will feature the
participation of Starnet International, a recognized leader in spaceframe
design and construction. Starnet will donate a complete set of spaceframe
components and show students how spaceframe systems are
Undergraduate students from CS, architecture, and/or civil engineering will
participate in the design and construction of a demonstration testbed,
augmented reality spaceframe construction system. The completed lab-based
system will work as follows:
A worker will don an augmented reality interface and look at a
single spaceframe node installed in the floor of the lab.
The augmented reality display will show the location of the first spaceframe
member to be installed and its unique identifying number.
The worker will be asked over the audio system to locate and install this
When the member is installed, the worker will swipe a bar code located on it,
to let the computer system know that the work has been completed.
If the proper piece was installed, the worker will be shown the next piece
to be installed, and asked to find it with this process continuing until the completion of the model.
If an incorrect piece was installed, the worker will be told as much, and
asked to exchange it with the correct piece. This correction will be made before further construction can proceed.
These processes are repeated until a small spaceframe structure has been
The testbed system will be designed, constructed, operated, and tested by a
small, collaborative group of civil engineering, computer science and
architecture students. Undergraduates will participate as research team
members for academic credit in an innovative interdisciplinary class. These
undergraduates will work directly with the professors who have conceived
this research and their graduate research assistants. Building industry
manufacturers and construction companies will also work with the students to
determine optimum fabrication and erection processes. The final class
requirement will be completion of a demonstration testbed augmented reality
system for use in constructing a portion of a full scale space-frame. Such a system can subsequently be used for educational project as well as actual on-site construction.
The completed testbed will illustrate how digital technologies can be used
to improve quality control and reduce the learning curve of a
variety of engineering related processes. By alerting workers immediately
when a member has been incorrectly installed, quality control will be streamlined and enhanced. Similarly, the augmented reality systems continual on-site guidance of workers
throughout the construction process will reduce, or possibly eliminate, the need for training. Both of these benefits are easily transferrable beyond
the domain of building construction to other disciplines.
The experience of the participants and the products of the class will be evaluated by
faculty from Teachers College at Columbia University. The evaluation will
culminate in a report describing the class, assessing its efficacy, and analyzing some of the issues raised
by this method of teaching.
This project structure and process will expose participating students to a
significant number of pedagogical benefits and learning opportunities not
normally encountered in their traditional classroom experience. For example,
computer science students will write working interrupt-driven, real
time computer code for an actual, state of-the-art digital/mechanical
system, and civil engineering students will develop a real construction
sequence database for an actual small structure. This will require consultation of local construction industry
representatives with space frame experience by the
students. CS, architecture, and CE students will have to
work together to develop various aspects of the testbed -- such as a rule
based system for use in guiding workers after mistakes have been made during
Skillsets such as CAD profiency that normally are taught separately will be acquired by enrolled students through their experience.
Students will learn a wider variety of material with less formal instruction than in a typical engineering course.
The real-world authenticity of the research aspects of the project and the need to produce a
completed working system by the end of the semester will motivate students
to perform at levels above those measured in traditional classes.
The interdisciplinary, team-based aspects of the project will prepare
students for the collaborative nature of real-world jobs in business or academia in ways that are not
possible in traditional classes.
Undergraduate participation as prescribed in this class will have a
beneficial effect on the advanced research.
Do undergraduate students enrolled in this class get a better understanding
of advanced engineering research than they would have otherwise?
Can a research-based class transfer skillsets to students more effectively
than traditional classes?
Does the experience encourage enrolled undergraduates to consider careers in
advanced engineering research?
Do students and faculty think that undergraduate participation helped in
furthering the research?
How successful is the resulting testbed augmented reality facility?
How can the projects methods of integrating research and teaching be improved, and
how can the productivity and quality control enhancements of the testbed be amplified?
How can these innovative methods of teaching through authentic tasks be transferred to disciplines and research
projects outside the fields of augmented reality and building construction?
The will run for one semester during the fall of 1995 as an independent
study for a CS, CE, and/or architecture student. The class will be conducted as a
seminar, meeting once a week with a building science researcher. Most weeks
a computer science researcher will also be present.
Week Topic / Deliverables
1. Project overview
2. Spaceframe computer model -- 25%
Construction checklist -- 75%
Hardware Calibration -- 25%
3. Component database -- 25%
(For each item, what it is, when and where its installed, special installation
Computer code -- 25%
4. AR construction sequence interface: storyboard -- 75%
5. Html mockup of AR interface / storyboard
(Sound, graphics, text).
6. - 14. Completed system.
User interface mockup designs
The project will be formally evaluated by Teachers College faculty
throughout its implementation. The results of the evaluation will be published in
report form and disseminated to Gateway Institutions, Gateway Central
administration, and the NSF. The report may be published on the World Wide
Web or on CD-Rom instead of as a tradition paperbound document. Pending
acceptance of abstracts and papers, we will also present the project in a
peer-reviewed journal and at a nationally prominent engineering education