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During the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri on November 7–9, 2018, Brandon Khoury ’17, M.S. ’18 and Manan Shah, engineering technology and honors student, placed first in the student poster competition for their research poster, “The Future of Learning Using Virtual Reality to Teach Industrial Robotics.”

Technology, Technology Management, and Applied Engineering students in undergraduate through doctoral level programs were invited to submit their synopsis of on-going research and/or results of their research, case studies, or surveys to be considered for the ATMAE Conference Student Poster Competition.

The process for competing in the student poster competition included submission of a synopsis/abstract in September 2018, acceptance of poster into the competition and presenting and answering questions regarding the poster during the ATMAE poster competition at the conference.

“I would like to say that overall the ATMAE Conference was a great experience with a lot of great presenters and learning opportunities,” Khoury said. “I would like to thank Dr. Chang and Dr. Devine for the support that they had given Manan and myself. I am sure that the skills I have developed during this research process will help with what the future may hold.”

The research is part of an ongoing collaborative effort among faculty members and students, including Technology faculty members Kevin Devine and Isaac Chang, and four other graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Technology. The team received support from multiple parties. In addition to the equipment such as the Oculus Rift headsets and specialized rendering computers provided by the Technology department, the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST), and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) sponsored the progression of this project through a faculty startup grant, university research grant, and equipment seed grant.

“I had a great experience seeing professionals share their thoughts and ideas to help students, tech and engineering industries, and the world to move forward,” Shah said.

The project focused on identifying opportunities to use virtual reality (VR) technology to help students learn about programming industrial robots.

“We are investigating how virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technologies can be used in enhancing teaching and learning, as well as their potential in assisting applied research related to human spatial cognition and problem-solving,” Chang said.

Research suggests that some students find it challenging to visualize robot motion using a 2D computer screen. The team investigated the use of VR to help students overcome these spatial visualization shortcomings while also exploring the potential uses of VR in the manufacturing workplace.

The Hank Campbell Endowed Scholarship for Global Vision and Problem Solving and CAST helped fund the student’s travel expenses to the conference.