EAGER: US Ignite: A Cloud Enabled Virtual Reality Based Pedagogical Ecosystem for Green Energy and Environmental Engineering Education

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project will develop, implement, and evaluate a novel, scalable and transferable virtual reality (VR) based pedagogical ecosystem that provides learners with the relevant skill training to address existing skilled worker shortage in the area of green energy and environmental engineering. This will facilitate the growth of new jobs and training opportunities for entry-level positions in this sector. Specifically, the ecosystem will use cloud services such as the Amazon Web Services (AWS) for backend technology and 3-D gaming engines such as Unity3d for front-end rendering to create immersive educational modules that cover technical topics on green energy and environmental engineering. The ecosystem will introduce and sustain inside and outside the classroom: 1) a unique blend of cloud-based self-contained VR modules from STEM areas of environmental engineering that feature student deliverables such as virtual renewable energy installations (wind-farms, solar-farms, etc.) for optimal energy generation, and virtual designs for energy automation systems along with strategies to operate them at optimal capacity 2) a cloud-based technological framework to deliver VR educational modules, and 3) a play-based learning pedagogical model Play-Curricular activity-Reflection and Discussion (PCaRD) that assess the application of students? independent thought processes, along with design and operational skills in creating these deliverables.

The creation of a VR-based pedagogical ecosystem in the context of the specific green energy themes will provide insight into the opportunities for using computation and bandwidth as a replacement for selected physical laboratories and field trips. The instrumentation of the VR modules will provide data on the impact of network bandwidth and latency on the educational experience. This data will be directly useful for designing and provisioning larger scale US Ignite VR-based education projects.

The pathways to the classroom include community college level of education via Drexel?s partnership with Burlington County College, high schools via an active GK-12 grant, and undergraduate courses at Drexel?s College of Engineering. The implementation plan, course materials, and associated technology will be regularly updated and made available to the public via a highly interactive web portal in a format that is easily adaptable for implementation in other universities. The results generated from this effort will be shared via education research conferences, journals and venues, and will help inform 1) the US IGNITE community of the benefits and limitations of using the proposed pedagogical ecosystem, and 2) the ongoing national dialogue on cloud-based VR education, thereby helping all stakeholders better align their educational efforts.

Effective start/end date1/1/1412/31/16


  • National Science Foundation: $270,584.00


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