The University of Dayton opened the Greg and Annie Stevens Intelligent Infrastructure Engineering Lab

Greg and Annie Stevens’ Intelligent Infrastructure Engineering Lab has made its debut at the University of Dayton.

The laboratory has a powerful computer that is necessary for the operation of virtual reality or VR technology. The computer is connected to four projectors that project whatever is on the computer screen across three walls.

Researchers can create blueprints of a construction site or building and recreate it in VR using technology in the lab. Once the building is rendered, its image can be cast onto the three walls.

It can also be loaded onto a VR headset to fully immerse a person in the immersive virtual reality environment.

This gives engineering students virtual tours of buildings that have not even been built yet.

“The virtual reality lab is a facility to create a virtual immersive 3D environment for many different research projects,” Jack Hui Wang, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and director of the VR lab, said. “For example, in civil engineering, it can be a really good tool for project reviews, progress reports, and infrastructure inspections.”

One of the programs on the lab’s computer is a VR environment Roger Glass Center for the Arts currently under construction at the corner of Main Street and Stewart Street. In the program, you can walk around the building to see what it should look like when it’s finished.

Also, students and professionals can see how electrical, HVAC, and water systems should work in the building. This not only allows students to gain hands-on experience with these systems, but experts can troubleshoot without ever having to set foot in the building.

The lab also offers shareholders and donors the opportunity to see what the finished product will look like.

The lab’s researchers also use the technology for another purpose: safety training.

Another program available to them is a construction site awareness program. About 15 people die on construction sites every day, and researchers hope this training program can help bring those numbers down.

The program puts you in a virtual environment on the edge of a freeway. Your job is to sweep debris off the road while two heavy machines work around you. The goal is to sweep all the debris while constantly paying attention to the machines working around you. If you don’t do this, the program will indicate that you will be “run over” by one of the machines.

The idea behind this is that employees who experience an “accident” in the VR environment become more aware when they are in reality.

“During the safety training, the physical behavior and physiological reactions of the trainees are continuously recorded,” Namgyun Kim, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, said. “And then, based on that data, we can analyze how many hazards they perceived or how quickly they responded to the hazard they faced.”

While a worker wears the VR headset and goes through the training program, he is constantly monitored: his eye movement, eye dilation and how he moves his body are recorded.

Wang and Kim believe that with the immersive environment of virtual reality, construction sites will be safer and more effective than ever.

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