skip to main content

Title: Closing the Skills Gap: Construction and Engineering Education Using Mixed Reality – A Case Study
This research work-in-progress paper investigated the application of emerging mixed reality (MR) technology in construction and engineering education. The construction industry is facing a severe shortage of skilled workforce. As the baby boomers are retiring, the younger generation, especially college students, are often criticized for their lack of professional experience and career-specific competency. To close the skills gap and accelerate the transition of college students to competent workforce, this paper proposed a new genre of learning and professional training using MR. The main promise of the MR technology resides in its ability to augment virtual contents on top of the physical reality to facilitate tacit knowledge learning, and simulate learning activities that traditionally can only be obtained from actual professional experience. An undergraduate wood framing lab was designed as a case study to explore how students might perform in this new learning and training environment. Specifically, the case study investigated if MR would facilitate student design comprehension and transfer such understanding into the knowledge and skills needed to build the wood structure. A randomly selected student control group was given traditional paper-based construction drawings to perform the same tasks with other student groups with various visualization technology assistance. Project performance and behavior of student groups were compared to determine if there was a significant difference between the control group and the experiment groups. A pair of pre- and post-survey on MR-intervened learning experience was also conducted to explore student perceptions towards this new genre of learning and training. The research design proposed in this work-in-progress study and its preliminary results could be a good reference and foundation to future research in this arena.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1735804 1735878
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
2018 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE)
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1 to 5
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The goal of this program, funded by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) program, is to provide additional professional and technical skills to cohorts of high school students through a five-week Saturday Program. The curriculum is continuously reviewed and modified to address current skills needed by the technician workforce. While this program was originally proposed and planned as in-person, the leadership team decided to shift to a virtual environment as the pandemic caused the closure of community college campuses where the program was to be held. Program modalities and curriculum were modified to shift to an online experience. In Fall 2022, the program was able to return to an in-person format. The program’s leadership team disseminates best practices through presentations, social media, publications, and workshops at national conferences. The four-day Summer Teachers’ Workshop brings high school and community college educators from throughout the United States to experience the same program that is used for the high school students. The Program’s outreach efforts and the national dissemination of best practices for engaging underrepresented populations in technology careers has a national impact that will potentially increase the diversity of the technician workforce. The program has inspired participants to have confidence in their own abilities. Principals from participating high schools have commented that students who attended the Program have demonstrated an improvement in their academics and behavior due to the knowledge of professional and technical skills that they have gleaned from the program. The program has provided inner-city students from four high schools with out-of-school, hands-on educational programs focusing on professional skills, technical writing and engineering technology competencies. Participant demographics will be discussed in this paper as diversity is a key objective of the program. The program utilizes industry-driven, project-based learning (PBL) and lessons in career and college readiness to prepare students for the workforce. Each student session consists of five consecutive Saturdays and is taught by a team of high school teachers, community college faculty, and instructors with expertise in professional skills, teambuilding, leadership, technical writing, coding, and STEM disciplines. 
    more » « less
  2. Involvement in professional disciplinary engineering student organizations (PDESOs) positively influences engineering students’ college experience. While extensive research about engineering student societies and organizations has demonstrated various benefits for students, few studies explore professional disciplinary engineering student societies and organizations that provide unique opportunities tailored around specific engineering disciplines. To better understand how participation in PDESOs influences engineering undergraduates, we conducted an exploratory study, interviewing thirteen mechanical engineering undergraduates with six months to three years of experience with PDESOs. The overarching conceptual framework is derived from a combination of motivated identity construction theory and engineering identity, allowing us to see how participation in these organizations contributes to students’ engineering identity and professional development. Participants indicated that involvement in PDESOs provided unique professional development opportunities that enhanced their self-esteem and efficacy and provided a welcoming environment where they experienced a sense of belonging. These results demonstrate that participation in PDESOs contributes to professional development, interpersonal skills, and community engagement, preparing them for the engineering workforce, which contributes to a strengthened engineering identity.

    more » « less
  3. Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences or CUREs promote student-centered learning through infusion of research principles within an undergraduate course. This is an ideal pedagogy for use in General Chemistry. CUREs provide access to research experience to a broader audience, which increases engagement and success. A CURE model was implemented in a second semester General Chemistry course at Pasadena City College, a Hispanic serving institution (HSI) community college. Student success rate in the CURE chemistry classroom increased by over 20% and students’ completion rates increased over 5%. In addition, success, and completion rates of Hispanic students in the class showed no achievement gap and an over 10% higher completion rate compared to students that took the non-CURE chemistry course. CUREs also had the added benefit of providing more populous groups of undergraduates with opportunities to get a taste of real-world working scenarios that would normally be reserved for upper-level graduate students. Adopting CUREs as an integral part of an institutions’ learning strategies promotes student engagement that will bridge the gaps in traditional learning, but also facilitate development of the essential soft skills required in the collaborative environment that is commonplace in working professional settings. The potential role and relationship of CUREs implementation regarding the revival and cultivation of polymathy among future students as well as its implications on the future of academic instruction based on connections made from historical and interdisciplinary observations are also explores. 
    more » « less
  4. Recognizing a national and regional need for a highly trained engineering technology STEM workforce with baccalaureate degrees, the Engineering Technology Scholars – IMProving Retention and Student Success (ETS-IMPRESS) project provides financial support and an ecosystem of high-impact curricular and co-curricular activities to increase the success of academically talented students. A total of 12 first-time students will be supported for four years and 36 students transferring from community colleges will be supported for two years. The goals of the project are to (1) increase the number and diversity of students pursuing degrees in engineering technology (first-generation, underrepresented students, women, and veterans); (2) add to the body of knowledge regarding best practices in Engineering Technology and promote employment; and (3) contribute to the literature on self-efficacy. The project brings together engineering technology academic programs that are offered through the School of Technology and programs in the Honors College, an inclusive and unique college designed around high-impact educational practices. The project provides a unique opportunity to engage academically talented engineering technology students in activities designed to foster leadership, technical know-how, and employability skills for technology fields that actively recruit and employ graduates from diverse backgrounds and communities. By focusing on a broad range of students, the project will investigate the relationship between student characteristics and student success through (1) a mixed methods pre/post research design that examines differences in motivation, self-efficacy and professional skills and (2) a matched cohort comparison study of transfer students that examines participation/non-participation in engineering technology programs of study with honors’ college elective programming. The paper will address first year project activities including the ETS-IMPRESS recruitment, and advertisement plan to recruit first-year and community college transfer students. The paper will address the student eligibility and selection process, the recruitment of the first cohort scholars, and finally the orientation program including the summer bridge undergraduate research experience. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    Background. It is well recognized that current graduate education is too narrowly focused on thesis research. Graduate students have a strong desire to gain skills for their future career success beyond thesis research. This obvious gap in professional skill training in current graduate study also leads to the common student perception that professional skills beyond academic knowledge should only be gained after completion of thesis research. Purpose. A new program is being developed to rigorously integrate professional skills training with thesis research. The approach is to establish learning communities of Graduates for Advancing Professional Skills (GAPS) to incorporate project management skill training from industry into academic research. The GAPS program seeks to address two fundamental education research questions: How can project management skill training be integrated with thesis research in graduate education? What is the role/value of learning communities in enhancing the training and retention of professional skills and the effectiveness of thesis research? Our proposed solution is that graduate student learning communities engaging in a blended online and classroom approach will promote learning of professional skills such as project and time management in thesis research activities. The purpose of this session is to establish the connection between project management and thesis research, and demonstrate the beginning progress of the GAPS program towards. Methodology/approach. The following progress is being made to establish GAPS learning communities through which to teach and practice professional skills. A website has been developed to introduce the program, recruit participants, provide information on the online modules, and survey results of participants’ current levels of knowledge and skills related to project management. A new course, “Introduction of Project Management for Thesis Research”, has been added to the course catalog and open to enrollment for students from different majors. In addition, learning modules including project charter, scheduling, communication, teamwork, critical path method, and lean concept are developed. Case studies and examples have been developed to help students learn how to utilize project management skills in their thesis research. Conclusions. The concept of integrating professional skills training with thesis research through learning communities has been demonstrated. There are multiple advantages of this approach, including efficient utilization of the current resources, and faculty buy-in. Preliminary data from the first cohort are being collected and analyzed to identify students’ needs, benefits of the program, and areas of improvement for future cohort iterations. Implications. The GAPS program will improve professional skill training for graduate students through communities of practice. This new learning model has the potential to fundamentally change the culture of graduate education. We believe the method demonstrated here can be broadly applied to different engineering majors, and even broadly to all thesis research. 
    more » « less