Virtual Reality Technology, BIM to Benefit ECU Construction Management | East Carolina

In an effort to introduce Building Information Modeling (BIM), students in East Carolina University’s Construction Management Department are using virtual reality to see their models developed in the real world.

Construction management president George Wang said VR technology was first taught in a graduate-level construction management course that covered BIM. Wang said that although he does not teach this BIM course, he visited the VR lab and helped design a ladder safety training project using VR technology.

Wang said students can use the VR equipment to learn about real construction sites, construction management, safety management and materials labs, as well as mechanics, electricity, plumbing, the various laboratories and the activities of the construction site.

“The use of VR technology is part of the digital transformation in the construction industry. Today, digital transformation is being introduced in construction management education. It will improve undergraduate education and connect our students to the real world of construction,” Wang said.

The construction management program needs larger spaces for lab equipment practices, Wang said, so if they don’t have the space or equipment, they can use VR technology to show students the real lab or construction site.

Wang said ECU’s construction management department associate professor Yilei Huang teaches at BMI to teach students how to design commercial and residential buildings using VR technology. He said technology is a tool to show students the concept of design.

“Using this innovative technology makes our construction management students and our program special and different from others. This means our students are more technically and professionally ready to join the 21st century construction industry,” Wang said. “I’m not the computer scientist or the person who teaches this virtual reality, but I can tell you that bringing virtual reality into the classroom is a revolutionary step in teaching construction management. “

Huang said the software used by the BMI class is Iris VR, which allows students to go inside buildings and see their own design, helping students understand their design and modeling.

Students create their 3D site model from the computer, Huang said, and then export it from the computer modeling software to the VR software where they can view their model from the VR headset. So that others can see what a student sees in their VR, Huang said students stream it to the computer connected to the projector.

“They (students) create their models on the computer, then I convert the model to VR format. I have to create an account for each of the groups so they can see their own model on their separate devices,” Huang said. .

Huang said the five Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets were purchased as part of ECU’s Office of Faculty Excellence Fall 2021 Course Innovation Fellowship. This semester, Huang said students are using the VR software trial account due to the high cost of the technology.

“This coming semester the class will be using the two week trial because last semester they had a license for the class because it was their first time using virtual reality. They (students) realized that the license was not needed because they don’t need it for the whole semester,” Huang said.

East Carolina University student Braxton O’Hara participates in a presentation using virtual reality technology in his class at the university’s Department of Construction Management.

The VR program helps the class enter the 3D model of a building and see what’s hard to see on computer screens, Huang said.

The BMI course uses the VR program towards the end of the semester to view students’ finished 3D site models, Huang said, as students develop their models throughout the semester.

“(Virtual Reality) gives students a better understanding of how construction modeling works and is important for students to identify design and modeling issues that are not easily seen on computer screens” , Huang said. “(It’s a) way to get our students to see the real world. Virtual reality is being used by more and more companies in the sector. »

Jordan Lipton, Product Sales Specialist for Autodesk’s XR Team – The Wild and Prospect by IrisVR, wrote in an email that in the early days of VR, architecture, engineering and (AEC) would need to hire a software development team. to build a VR experience for each specific model used on different projects, which involved a lot of time and money.

Prospect by IrisVR was launched with the goal of making it easy for people to import their VR models for design review through 3D modeling software, Lipton wrote, such as Revit and Navisworks.

Lipton wrote that other features such as issue tracking and BIM data inspection helped establish BIM workflows. It’s easy and comfortable to use, Lipton said, and its scalability has made Prospect by IrisVR a valuable decision-making tool for AEC companies in more than 100 countries.

“It’s not just about watching your models in virtual reality; the software has built-in design review tools such as measurements, markups, viewpoints, and visibility settings. On top of that, it also includes a functional VR meeting so anyone in the world can collaborate live in their model together,” Lipton wrote.

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