EDUCATION AND RESEARCH IN 3D Lifelike learning helps students achieve while expanding the boundaries of knowledge
For decades, industries worldwide have steadily advanced their businesses with increasingly sophisticated 3D virtual models that accelerate discovery, enable collaboration and improve quality. Although 3D also is proven to help both students and researchers accelerate their quests for knowledge, the technology has been slow to permeate education and research. Compass looks at three new projects that are changing that trend, using 3D to help students succeed in school and improve their job prospects, as well as helping researchers accelerate the pace of medical discovery.
Businesses worldwide have proven the power of 3D digital modeling to accelerate discovery, increase quality, simplify design and manufacturing, and enable collaboration and understanding across distances and disciplines. Now, with the advent of Industry of the Future initiatives that simulate and manage every aspect of a facility – from a factory to an entire city – in scientifically accurate 3D via links to the Internet of Things (IoT), knowledge of the technology is becoming increasingly vital to success in the workplace and the research lab.
The growing need for 3D-trained workers and researchers is beginning to stimulate pilot projects designed to demonstrate how 3D can be applied to both education and research. In the process, 3D is teaching hundreds of students that with 3D even the most technical courses can be fun, while giving researchers powerful new tools in their quest for solutions to global challenges.
“3D technologies play an interesting and very important role in bringing students who have abandoned formal learning back into the classroom,” said Jean-François Thoorens, technology teacher at Apprentis d’Auteuil, an academic foundation that provides educational, training and job placement programs to underprivileged students in France.
In his third-year high school class, Thoorens’ students are designing and building a miniature car that they will race against cars developed by students at other schools.
“The students will be involved throughout the different phases of the project,” Thoorens said. “This not only includes the design of a 3D digital mock-up of the car, but its fabrication as well.” In addition, students will generate marketing assets, design a booth for presenting their car at the competition, and give an oral presentation of their work to the competition’s jury.
“3D TECHNOLOGIES PLAY AN INTERESTING AND VERY IMPORTANT ROLE IN BRINGING STUDENTS WHO HAVE ABANDONED FORMAL LEARNING BACK INTO THE CLASSROOM.”TECHNOLOGY TEACHER, APPRENTIS D’AUTEUIL
The project-based learning exercise allows students “to experience the way different disciplines collaborate to share ideas and opinions on design choices and techniques...all the activities that need to be performed in real-life situations and that students should master for when they enter the job market,” Thoorens said.
Using 3D design tools contributes to the students’ enthusiasm for their work, increasing their chances of success.
“I really like using the 3D design software to create the car,” said Alassane Gueye, a student in Thoorens’ class. “It’s fun to work with others and share ideas as a group and see our design come to life in three dimensions. A project like this is very motivating and opens up new perspectives for me, as I am currently in the process of deciding which career to pursue when I graduate.”
Learning how to collaborate with others to accomplish a shared goal is a valuable aspect of the project, said Alexandre Petit, another student in Thoorens’ class. “I know this is what I want to do in the future,” he said. “This project has taught me how to be an engineer, but above all how to work in a team.”
Base 11 is a California-based organization focused on encouraging more students to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, or to become entrepreneurs and start their own companies. With numerous US industries facing profound shortages of STEM-trained workers, Base 11 focuses on creating opportunities for low-resource students to realize their full potential and find high-paying jobs through STEM training.
“Base 11’s mission is to close the STEM talent pipeline gap, fueled by the underrepresentation of women and minorities, and to transform them into a skilled workforce that industry and our country so desperately need,” said Landon Taylor, CEO of Base 11. “Our goal is to produce 11,000 STEM-trained graduates by the year 2020.”
3D solutions help students to advance in their STEM academic pursuits and prepare for their careers, Taylor said. “3D is effective because it really allows them to work in collaboration with others and to actually follow through on something that we teach, which is to build, measure and learn,” he said. “When you have the opportunity to work in a virtual environment, you have the ability to tinker. Low-resource students don’t usually have that opportunity. If they break something, they won’t have another try at it. Consequently, they fall behind. Working in a 3D virtual environment gives them the ability to iterate, learn, measure and grow. That’s going to increase their motivation and confidence in themselves and, therefore, their skillsets.”
Base 11 has established a partnership with the University of California Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering, enabling academically gifted but low-income engineering students to study at UCI.
“3D IS EFFECTIVE BECAUSE IT REALLY ALLOWS [STUDENTS] TO WORK IN COLLABORATION WITH OTHERS AND TO ACTUALLY FOLLOW THROUGH ON SOMETHING THAT WE TEACH, WHICH IS TO BUILD, MEASURE AND LEARN.”CEO, BASE 11
“This partnership gives them the opportunity to acquire hands-on experience in engineering, in design and in problem-solving,” said Sharnnia Artis, Samueli’s assistant dean of access and inclusion. “Many of our students, when they come, have no idea what type of 3D technologies are out there. And so when we put these technologies and tools that are being used in industry at their disposal, they are excited and motivated to learn.”
UCI and Base 11 built an Autonomous Systems Engineering Academy lab to provide students with hands-on, project- based learning.
“Through this lab, the students are able to take an idea and turn it into a product,” Artis said. “During the design phase, they can conceptualize their idea in 3D, then put it into a format where they can 3D print it and use our laser technology to bring the concept to life. When they graduate, they already know how to use the same tools that are used in the industry so that when they enter the workforce, they hit the ground running.”
Gregory Washington is Stacey Nicholas dean of engineering at the UCI Samueli School.
“The first group of students that participated in the program last year was blown away,” Washington said. “They learned how to take 3D CAD and use design and engineering principles to build an autonomous drone. Throughout the process they learned principles of aerodynamics, computer science and basic electronics and literally built these machines from the ground up. To see individuals come in a little tepid, a little afraid, and to see them leave with an understanding, ‘I can do it, this is doable,’ is very rewarding. Without 3D tools, you cannot get the results that we want to see in our future engineers.”
A continent and an ocean away, researchers at UK-based University of Sheffield are using 3D technologies to break ground in medical research by predicting the outcome of clinical procedures through 3D modeling and simulation.
“Computational modeling and virtual reality are entering many aspects of engineering, medicine, biology and technology,” said Alberto Marzo, lecturer of computational biomechanics. “3D virtual models serve to bridge the engineering and medical worlds because it provides a contextualization of the model data that can improve the dissemination of this data to a non-engineering audience.”
Among other projects, Marzo and his team are studying the treatment of a cerebrovascular condition known as an intracranial aneurism.
“These are abnormal dilations of an artery that can produce devastating consequences if they rupture, causing bleeding in the brain that can lead to death,” he said. “Our students use 3D virtual reality to understand the anatomy of the patient through the development of a computational, patient-specific clinical procedure and to predict the effect of a treatment before actually performing it on a patient.”
The Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine, a collaborative initiative between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is applying new 3D technologies to design a medical device or treat a disease.
“WE AIM TO TRAIN NEW STUDENTS TO BECOME THE ENGINEERS AND RESEARCHERS OF TOMORROW.”PROFESSOR OF MECHANOBIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD
“We aim to train new students to become the engineers and researchers of tomorrow so that they can actually use the new technologies in a clinical context,” said Damien Lacroix, professor of mechanobiology at the University of Sheffield and director of research at Insigneo.
For Kyle Murdock, a research assistant at Insigneo, 3D is valuable in both research and teaching.
“3D universes create a collaborative space with which we can analyze different objects or concepts simultaneously, providing more detail in our teaching approach because teaching in virtual reality increases the depth of knowledge,” Murdock said. “Without it, we would be limited in how we can discuss complicated physiological concepts with physicians and students.”
3D also helps clinicians make more informed decisions that create better outcomes for patients, Marzo said.
“To diagnose, treat or monitor disease using 3D simulation models in a very advanced virtual reality environment enables clinicians to rely on engineering principles rather than empirical processes to make better, moreinformed decisions on which treatment is best for each patient,” he said. “The potential to transform health care is substantial.”
All of the projects featured in this article are recipients of education or research grants from La Fondation Dassault Systèmes.
La Fondation contributes to transforming learning and research experiences by supporting schools, universities, research centers and other not- for-profit organizations as they apply 3D virtual technology to their processes and share their learnings with others in their fields. La Fondation’s objective is to transform the learning experience, help educators increase the employability of their graduates through a holistic, 3D-based approach to teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and expand the boundaries of knowledge by applying 3D to research and intellectual heritage projects.
For more information: http://3ds.one/lafondation
Discover La Fondation Dassault Systèmes: http://3ds.one/lafondation