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Leveraging Virtual Reality to Connect Learning and Integrate Course Knowledge in the Industrial Engineering Curriculum: 1834465

Principal Investigator: Omar Ashour
CoPrincipal Investigator(s): Conrad Tucker
Organization: Pennsylvania State Univ University Park

Integrated engineering curricula are intended to help students build stronger links across different courses in an engineering program, thereby improving student ability to transfer knowledge between courses. Motivations for offering integrated engineering curricula include improving the ability of first year students to make connections between mathematics and science courses and future courses in engineering, as well as improving student retention in the first and second years. Virtual Reality (VR) is a powerful, immersive interactive computer-generated experience that is fast gaining popularity. The goal of this project is to leverage VR technology to connect concepts taught in different courses across the Industrial Engineering curriculum. Expected outcomes include improving knowledge transfer and retention in Industrial Engineering, furthering the national goal of training more scientists and engineers.

Significant curriculum integration will be achieved by using holistic VR-based learning modules to facilitate the transfer of knowledge. Modules will be designed to help students understand the inter-relationships between core engineering concepts within the curriculum and the relationships between what they learn in the classroom and real-life applications. The impact of VR-based integrative learning experiences on engineering student learning, motivation, and engineering identity will be examined. The curricular materials that are developed will be freely available and will be disseminated to the engineering education community through workshops and publications. Based on emerging educational research results, the use of VR systems may be particularly effective for women and could contribute to diversifying the engineering field by reducing the gender gap in engineering fields.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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