A virtual reality tool for training in global engineering collaboration


Global collaboration is the major trend in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry; training in global engineering collaboration thus is highly demanded in existing engineering education. One approach to this training is to expose students to sufficient experiences, such as having them participating in a global project-based course. To do this, the authors participated in and co-designed a global project-based course, called Sky Classroom, from 2014 to 2016. That course, which aimed to teach global engineering collaboration skills, required international students to collaborate in the design of buildings. During the course, we identified three issues in the existing communication platform: low communicability, passive problem finding, and poor spatial cognition. Since the communication platform is the key factor in successful collaboration, we designed and implemented an appropriate platform, the virtual building information modeling (BIM) reviewer (VBR), for addressing these issues. VBR is an avatar-based communication platform that allows users to enter the BIM model and find problems from their individual perspectives. It was developed and continuously improved based on observations of students’ global collaboration behaviors and feedback in Sky Classroom. VBR has undergone two development phases with two virtual reality types, desktop-based and immersive. While the desktop-based VBR solves the issues of low communicability and passive problem finding, the immersive VBR solves the issue of poor spatial cognition, and the application of the VBR in Sky Classroom will solve the issues in the existing communication platform and assist students in collaboration, respectively.

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This research was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan (MOST, 102-2511-S-002-010-MY3). We would like to thank MOST for this financial support. We would also like to thank the professors and all the participating students from the cooperating universities, including Prof. Carrie Sturts Dossick from the University of Washington, Prof. Ashwin Mahlingram from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Prof. Ghang Lee from Yonsei University, Prof. Timo Hartmann from Twente University, Prof. Anne Anderson from Washington State University, Prof. Jiin-Song Tasi from National Cheng Kung University, and Prof. Chia-Ming Chang from National Taiwan University.

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Correspondence to Shih-Chung Kang.

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Wu, T., Wu, F., Liang, C. et al. A virtual reality tool for training in global engineering collaboration. Univ Access Inf Soc 18, 243–255 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10209-017-0594-0

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  • Global collaboration
  • Virtual reality
  • Engineering collaboration
  • Engineering education
  • Building information modeling