Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

2012 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings



Conference Name

2012 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, San Antonio Texas, June 10-13, 2012


Results are presented from an NSF supported project that is geared towards advancing the development and use of virtual reality (VR) laboratories, designed to emulate the learning environment of physical laboratories. As part of this project, an experiment in the undergraduate thermo-fluids laboratory course titled "Jet Impact Force" was transformed into a 3-D virtual reality experiment using the widely used MAYA R and VIRTOOLS R software. In order to facilitate students' interactions with the newly created 3-D interactive, immersive and stereoscopic virtual laboratory environment, the human computer interfaces (HCI) were programmed and incorporated in the simulation software. Two immersion levels were included in the VR experiment to assess their impact on student learning. The first one namely the desktop virtual reality (DTVR) used a computer and a 3-D TV for display while the CAVE virtual reality (CVR) employed a computer in conjunction with a three-wall CAVE (acronym for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) for visualizing the simulation. The above said VR experiment was embedded in the thermo-fluids laboratory course in the mechanical engineering curriculum at Old Dominion University (ODU) so that it could be used in the supplementation mode for the pre-lab practice sessions prior to the physical experiment sessions. To test the efficacy of this supplementation pedagogy for enhancement of student learning, both quantitative (quiz) as well as qualitative (direct observation and student survey) assessment instruments were used. Of the three objectives set for this study two, namely the development and implementation of VR experiment and the assessment of impact of immersion levels on student learning were fully achieved. Assessment results also showed that the "CVR" module resulted in a higher level of student learning when compared with the "DTVR" module. The third objective, namely the assessment of the VR experiment in enhancing student learning in the supplementation mode was met only partially since the quantitative and qualitative assessments produced divergent results. The statistical analysis of the quiz scores of the "experimental" group, consisting of students who used the VR experiment for supplementation, and the "control" group (without supplementation) showed that the supplementation produced improvements in student learning that were statistically insignificant. In contrast the direct observation of both the "experimental" and the "control" groups during the physical experiment pointed to student learning gains for the "experimental" group. Student surveys showed generally positive disposition of students towards the newly introduced VR experiment.


© 2012 American Society for Engineering Education, ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, San Antonio Texas, June 10-13, 2012.

Posted with the permission of the publisher.

Original Publication Citation

Chaturvedi, S. K., Yoon, J., McKenzie, R., Katsioloudis, P. J., Garcia, H. M., & Ren, S. (2012). Implementation and assessment of a virtual reality experiment in the undergraduate themo-fluids laboratory. Paper presented at the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, San Antonio, Texas, June 10-13, 2012.


0000-0002-8000-839X (Yoon)