Using a virtual sculpture to teach steel connection design

Project No.
1140563
PI Name
Hazar Dib
Institution
Purdue University


IUSE-EHR/TUES/CCLI

Abstract 1

Using a virtual sculpture to teach steel connection design

Presentation Type
Poster
Team
Hazar Dib, Purdue Universtiy


Need

A good connection design requires the engineer to have a solid understanding of the mechanics and steel behavior. In order to help students better understand various connection types, many schools have acquired steel sculptures. A steel sculpture is a physical system that shows forty-eight types of connection found in standard construction practices. Unfortunately, because of its size and location, students do not always have easy access to it. The virtual sculpture described in the poster can provide an effective learning alternative. It allows the students to see the sculpture from multiple points of view anywhere anytime, and shows the close up view of each connection with description of how it may be used, potential failure modes, sample calculations, and field examples.
The project respond to a gap in research: while there is some evidence that show that virtual environment are effective learning tools, there is a need for additional evidence. This project adds to the body of research that support the efficacy of virtual environment for learning in STEM disciplines.

Goals

The major goal from this project is to improve engineering studentsメ understanding of the mechanics of steel connections and their behavior in a structure.

This project proposes a web based virtual steel sculpture as an alternative to the physical sculpture.

The goal from this sculpture is to provide an effective learning opportunity and 24-7 access to students and educators in the United States and abroad.The virtual sculpture will show the close up view of each connection with description of how it may be used, potential failure modes, sample calculations, and field examples.

Key activities:
Development of the interactive virtual steel structure:

Formative evaluation with students enrolled in Civil Engineering at Purdue University.

Dissemination of project results through project website, scholarly publications, and presentations at Conferences.

Approach

We conducted a formative evaluation of the interactive virtual steel structure which included quantitative and qualitative methods.
The evaluation instrument was an online survey with 33 rating questions, 11 open-ended questions and 8 demographics questions. The objectives of the formative study were to: (1) understand studentsメ perceived usefulness and usability of the tool; (2) understand studentsメ perceived effectiveness of the Virtual Steel Sculpture in enhancing their understanding of connection types, assembly, and accessibility; and (3) solicit feedback for improvement. In addition, the study aimed to determine whether the studentメs academic classification (e.g. PhD, MS, undergraduate status), number of quarters or semesters of steel design courses taken, the interaction between these two factors, and the number of hours that the subject spent interacting with the virtual steel sculpture had a significant effect on the answers to the rating questions.

Outcomes

The students were excited about the virtual sculpture and thought it would be a useful learning tool.

The significant results for this project period are:

1. Completion of the interactive steel structure tool

development of new, improved user interface (the interface was iteratively designed and improved based on studentsメ feedback)
development of help menu
2. Collection and statistical analysis of data from formative evaluation with students

Conducted a formative evaluation of the interactive tool with 34 students enrolled in the Civil Engineering program at Purdue. A brief description of the study and summary of findings are included below. A detailed description of the evaluation, statistical analysis and results are included as a supplementary pdf file titled 'Formative evaluation'
Major Activities:
1. Completed the development of the interactive virtual steel structure:

iteratively refined the user interface
developed help menu
integrated sample calculations with photos
optimized tool performance so it can run on any computer (PC or MAC) with low-end graphics cards.

2. Conducted a formative evaluation with 34 students enrolled in Civil Engineering at Purdue University. Collected data through online survey and conducted statistical analysis (see results section for a summary of findings)

3. Currently preparing a manuscript on the results of the formative study to be submitted to ASEE AEE journal

Specific Objectives:
The specific objectives of this project period were to (a) collect feedback from students on the VR tool and suggestions for improvement, (b) iteratively refine the VR tool based on students feedback, (c) complete the development, and (d) disseminate the results.

Key deliverables:

1. Completion of the interactive steel structure tool
2. Collection and statistical analysis of data from formative evaluation with students
3. Optimization of interactive steel structure tool so it can run on any computer (PC or MAC) with low-end graphics cards.
4. Integration of sample calculations within the interactive tool
5. Dissemination of results

Broader Impacts

The virtual sculpture is freely and publicly available to download from the project website. The virtual steel sculpture will help students better visualize how members could be connected. Unlike the physical steel sculpture, this interactive educational tool is accessible to students and educators 24-7 in the United States and abroad. The tool also benefits other affiliated personnel such as architects, design technicians (drafting people), and construction managers. Moreover, this tool would allow other educators and engineers to contribute to the database of design calculations and field examples. The results are better teachers, better-educated students, better-prepared engineers, and better communication with affiliated personnel.
Project results have been disseminated through scholarly publications and presentations at ASCE conferences.

Unexpected Challenges

The project was scheduled to be completed December 31, 2013. However, due to the collaborative nature of the project requiring coordination from 3 institutions, we have hit some delays.

Citations

1- Hazar Dib, Karen Chou, and Saeed Moaveni (2014). An Interactive Steel Connection Teaching Tool - A Virtual Structure. Joint Conference of ICCCBE 2014, CIB W 078, and ASCE Technical Council on computing and IT in Civil Engineering. Orlando, FL.

2- Dib, H., Adamo-Villani, N. (In Review). 'Virtual steel sculpture for structural engineering education: development and initial findings'. Journal of Educational Technology Systems.



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