Research Projects: VizClass

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Project Name: VizClass - Expanding Engineering Thinking: Interactive Visualization Of Numerical Models
Team Members: Tara C. Hutchinson, Falko Kuester, Dirk Groeneveld, Mike Elkin, Mark E. Phair and Kai-Uwe Doerr
Assessment Team: Mark Warschauer and Doug Grimes (Department of Education)
Project Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)



Though the field of engineering has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, the study of engineering has changed relatively little. Students continue to passively listen to lectures in chalkboard-based environments that afford them little opportunity for visualization, hands-on manipulation, interaction, or creative design. Indeed, almost all of these skills- which are vital for engineering- are learned through on-the-job practice, rather than at universities. A continuation of this trend threatens to weaken the relevancy of engineering and computer science study at the university. This project involves the development of a new interactive learning environment—incorporating both a specially designed lecture room and laboratory- called VizClass. VizClass integrates 2- and 3-dimensional spatial learning by coupling a series of interactive projection display boards (2D white boards) and a semi-immersive (3D stereo equipped) wall display controlled by a dedicated visualization server. Each of these spaces (devices) is connected to a numerical solver. Active white board screens providing either an input or output workspace are linked to each other and to the numerical solver via a high-speed (large storage capacity) server. The solver receives feedback from the input or 'working' screen in the form chosen by the user. If the input-mode is of type equation, the solver will manipulate the equations and output the solution as either a 2- or 3-dimensional visual object to the selected output device in either mono- or stereoscopic form. Visual output can be for example, a distorted or contoured mesh with stresses, strains or flow distribution, or figures annotating important engineering parameters. Test bed verification of VizClass is targeted towards finite element methods applicable to civil and structural engineering problem solving at the graduate education level. Faculty and student researchers from the Departments of Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering and Education are collaborating on this project.


This research is supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number EIA-0203528 and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). The above support is greatly appreciated.

Courses Taught in VizClass


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Related Resarch Projects

Tools Used In This Project

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