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VR for enhanced teaching of conceptual design development

Clare Wood Orcid Logo

Swansea University Author: Clare Wood Orcid Logo

Abstract

A key component of the Swansea University Year 1 Civil Engineering module EG-122 Conceptual Design is the training of students in the development and exploration of imaginative, viable Civil Engineering conceptual solutions to problems (concept generation being ‘an approximate description of the tec...

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Published: Swansea University Virtual and Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching in Higher Education 2018
Online Access: https://www.swansea.ac.uk/vr-in-teaching/vr-conference/
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa46058
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Abstract: A key component of the Swansea University Year 1 Civil Engineering module EG-122 Conceptual Design is the training of students in the development and exploration of imaginative, viable Civil Engineering conceptual solutions to problems (concept generation being ‘an approximate description of the technology, working principles, and form of the product…usually expressed as a sketch or as a rough three-dimensional model…’ [1]. However, conventional methods for conceptual design communication, such as sketching, physical modeling or 2D CAD drawings are now being significantly enhanced by 3D and even 4D (space + time) computer methods. In the Civil Engineering and construction sector a high level of what is known as “BIM” Building Information Modelling (“digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility…. a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition “ [2]) is now mandated for certain types of projects and many companies are investing heavily in becoming BIM-expert providers. In April 2016 survey of 1,000 UK construction professionals revealed that BIM adoption had increased from 13% in 2010 to 62% in 2017 [3]. Therefore, knowledge of BIM and the development of skills in the related technology is now an industry must-have for Civil Engineering graduates.In academic year 2017-18 the teaching of 3D BIM modeling using Autodesk Revit software (Autodesk Revit is by far the dominant software for BIM, used by 41% of industry professionals [3]) was introduced into EG-122. The associated coursework made up a significant component (20%) of the final module mark. Student engagement and feedback on this new aspect of the teaching was excellent and I found that our Year 1 students managed to grasp the fundamentals of using the new software to create realistic building models in a surprisingly short period of time. The further development of BIM modeling within EG-122 to include VR seeks to enhance students’ understanding of and interaction with their 3D conceptual design by enabling them to create and use their models in a more interactive manner. Paes et al. investigate how users’ spatial awareness changes when immersed in a VR building design compared to when using a non-immersive building design on workstation. They conclude that ‘the immersive environment may benefit current design practices by improving professionals’ understanding of the spatial arrangement of the virtual model’ [4].This study is based on the hypothesis that the introduction of immersive conceptual design and interaction will allow the students to more fully engage in the concept evolution stage of design. Furthermore, in comparison with the more common CAD methods, where students would look at a 2D computer screen to develop a 3D object, it is envisaged that through immersion in VR, students’ spatial awareness of aspects of the conceptual design will be greatly enhanced. [1] Eppinger, S. and Ulrich, K., 2016. Product design and development. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.[2] Frequently Asked Questions About the National BIM Standard-United States - National BIM Standard - United States. Nationalbimstandard.org. Retrieved 16 April 2018.[3] NBS National BIM Report 2017. thenbs.com. Retrieved 17 April 2018.[4] Paes, D., Arantes, E. and Irizarry, J., 2017. Immersive environment for improving the understanding of architectural 3D models: Comparing user spatial perception between immersive and traditional virtual reality systems. Automation in Construction, 84, pp.292-303.
Keywords: Building information modelling, Revit, Immersive conceptual design, spatial awareness
College: College of Engineering