An interactive visualization environment for construction engineering education

John I. Messner, David R. Riley, Michael J. Horman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


The ability to visualize the built environment is a critical skill required by design and construction engineering students. Students in Civil and Architectural Engineering programs typically learn to analyze project designs and plan their construction by reviewing 2D CAD drawings and developing Critical Path Method (CPM) schedules. With recent advancements in computer display technology, it is now possible to place students within a large-scale, immersive projection display that allows them to experience and experiment with 3D, full-scale virtual prototypes of construction projects. This advanced visual communication can significantly improve the ability of students to comprehend, learn, and gain experience with reviewing designs for constructability and planning the construction of complex building and infrastructure projects. This paper presents the current status and vision for ongoing research into the implementation of advanced visualization technologies within the Construction Engineering and Management option in the Architectural Engineering Department at Penn State. The goal of our ongoing research is to improve engineering education in building and infrastructure design and construction through the use of interactive construction learning modules in an immersive virtual reality environment. The development of a Virtual Construction Simulator (VCS) is discussed which will allow students to immerse themselves into a 3D construction project, perform a detailed analysis of the design, and develop a plan for the construction process. The successful implementation of 4D Computer Aided Design (CAD) modeling (3D CAD with schedule time as the 4th dimension) in an undergraduate curriculum is presented with important lessons learned. The process for visualizing these 4D CAD models within a large immersive display system is also described. The results of this process yield useful experience in the development of a visualization facility and the implementation of 4D CAD in an immersive display system. These lessons along with the future learning module development are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConstruction Research Congress 2005
Subtitle of host publicationBroadening Perspectives - Proceedings of the Congress
EditorsI.D. Tommelein
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2005
EventConstruction Research Congress 2005: Broadening Perspectives - Proceedings of the Congress - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Apr 5 2005Apr 7 2005

Publication series

NameConstruction Research Congress 2005: Broadening Perspectives - Proceedings of the Congress


OtherConstruction Research Congress 2005: Broadening Perspectives - Proceedings of the Congress
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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