Using Virtual Reality in the Classroom

Virtual Reality or VR as it’s known is taking the world by storm. Along with augmented reality it can make the classroom a much more interesting place. With the Escola project in mind we were keen to find out how this would help engineering students.

Dr Jacqueline Thomas, a humanitarian engineering lecturer at University of Sydney, said Virtual Reality is especially useful for disciplines where, due to safety concerns or practicality reasons, it’s hard to give students hands-on experience.

“Construction engineers are using VR to do site inspections. Chemical engineers can use it to conduct experiments and observe chemical reactions at a much closer range than they would normally be able to.”

We looked at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota to find out more about their use of virtual reality. The university embraced technology and feel that this helps faculty and students stay ahead of the curve.

STELAR: the St. Thomas eLearning and Research Center, is digitally connected, and technically-outfitted with interactive touch screens, video conferencing, etc. The center supports the movement toward online and blended degrees, while aiding faculty in their research. In STELAR’s Emerging Technology Showcase, faculty can start envisioning – and using – the classrooms of the future.

Students at the university use Virtual Reality by capturing 360⁰ images on site, and of their projects, that can be stitched together into a VR experience. 

STELAR’s Active Learning Classroom includes monitors and whiteboards on every wall, group seating rather than rows of desks. This makes learning much more interactive and encourages a collaborative way of education.

To find out more about the Escola Project and to take the free online course please visit the website.

5 Interesting Apps and Tools for Engineering Students

With the Escola Project in mind we’ve been researching apps and websites designed for engineering students. Instead of having to carry bulky books, engineering students can now take advantage of the multiple apps and tools available. 

We’ve taken a look at some of the apps and tools that might be of interest :

Engineering Unit Converter
This is a comprehensive engineering unit converter with an intuitive spinning wheel interface. There is no ad, no hidden code, no need for a network connection, and the total size is about half a megabyte. 

Not an app but a really cool website. Instructables is a community for people who like to make things. You can explore, share, and make your next project with them. You will be inspired by this one.

Wolfram Alpha
A very user friendly app, this one has been compared to Wikipedia for engineering students. Students input questions relevant to their field of study and the Alpha gives you the answer.

This app is designed specifically for use by Electrical engineering and electronics student. The app serves as a database for electronic tools and references which can be used by students looking to learn or practicing engineers searching for immediate information when solving problems.

RealCalc Plus
RealCalc Plus is designed to look and operate exactly like a real hand-held calculator. It has all the standard scientific functions plus fractions, degrees/minutes/seconds, history, memories, unit conversions and constants. You can choose from a number of display styles and formats. It also supports binary, octal and hexadecimal calculations and has an optional RPN mode. 

If you have any suggestions for great apps or tools for engineers just let us know.

To find out more about the Escola Project and take the free, online course please visit the website.