CAREER: Fostering Innovation and Learning in the AEC Industry Through Immersive Virtual Facility Prototypes

Project: Research project

Project Details


The design and construction of facilities requires the conceptualization of complex systems and processes. While many industries have embraced rapid prototyping processes and technologies, the use of prototypes in the building industry remains in its infancy. There is a need to develop better methods to visualize and manipulate virtual models of facilities and construction processes within the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. This project aims to create a Virtual Facility Prototyping (VFP) process and tools that will provide a foundation for the wide-spread implementation of virtual facility prototyping in the AEC industry. The VFP process will lead to a structure for developing innovative industry prototyping techniques and will provide the foundation for visual and problem-based student learning modules.

The research goal of this project is to develop methods to efficiently create and use immersive virtual facility prototypes that foster more innovative building and infrastructure product and process designs. More specifically, this research will explore the efficient development and use of VFPs to foster innovation through the improved communication of the design and construction process information between project team members including the architects, engineers, contractors, owners and suppliers. Case studies and structured experiments will be used to demonstrate how communication and problem solving between collaborative teams can be facilitated through the virtual and full-scale representation of design and construction processes.

The educational component of this project targets the development of case study learning modules using the virtual facility prototypes in an active learning environment. These learning modules will be implemented into the undergraduate curriculum and freely disseminated to other universities for more widespread use. The use of VFPs in engineering education will have a profound impact on the visualization of complex systems and construction processes by students and clearly demonstrate successful techniques for applying advanced visualization tools. When combined with problem-based learning exercises, VFPs will help create active, engaging learning environments and improve the attraction and retention of top caliber students to engineering disciplines.

The impact of this project on the AEC industry will be significant and broad-reaching, as it will redefine how facilities are conceptualized, designed, and constructed in virtual environments. This project will also demonstrate the value of VFPs in creating collaborative problem solving environments to other industries, such as ship building, aircraft construction, and large equipment manufacturing industries

Effective start/end date6/1/045/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $421,325.00


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