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Immersive Virtual Reality Used in Metallurgical Engineering Education

Pengbo Chu, a Nevada Gold Mines professor at the Mackay School of Earth Science and Engineering, and his collaborators were recently awarded a grant for research into designing metallurgical course modules using immersive virtual reality (VR). I was.

Chu is the principal investigator of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that awarded researchers about $850,000. Co-Principal Investigators include Sergiu Dascalu (Professor of Computer Science and Engineering), Leping Liu (Professor of Quantitative Methods and Learning Science), Li-Ting Chen (Associate Professor of Quantitative Methods and Learning Science), and Ying Yang (Assistant Professor of Chemistry). ).

The research group includes Pengbo Chu (top left), Sergiu Dascalu (top right), Ying Yang (bottom left), Leping Liu (bottom center), and Li-Ting Chen (bottom right).

Researchers work together to design and build an immersive VR experience to help students better understand a metallurgical process called froth flotation. Researchers in computer science and engineering use their engineering skills to build real-world VR ecosystems, while researchers in learning sciences use their educational expertise to help students learn the tasks and roles they play in the VR world. to develop

“The main goal of this project is to provide students with a better learning experience in metallurgical engineering and better prepare them for the qualifications required in the important emerging minerals industry,” said Chu. says.

Chu says the process researchers are trying to visualize is complex. Floss flotation is a key technique in the mineral beneficiation process, separating minerals of interest (such as important minerals) from other minerals. Floss flotation is his three-step mineral separation process that uses chemistry and physics to separate minerals.

“It’s a very complex system,” says Chu. Students often have trouble visualizing it, so Chu reached out to his collaborators to see if they would be interested in developing new ways to teach this process.

Bubbles are generated on the surface of the silver liquid.
Bubbles form when minerals are bubble levitated at a gold mining facility in Nevada. (Photo credit: Pengbo Chu)

Students are immersed in a virtual reality world and play different roles in the frothing process. The role the student chooses, how long it takes to complete a task, and how well she collaborates with other students were analyzed by machine learning and data analysis algorithms, with the results allowing researchers to create a more personalized VR learning experience for her. to help you design. Tailor it to your student’s skills to help them learn more effectively.

Collaborators plan to design the module around a community of inquiry perspectives, incorporating an educational presence that guides students, a cognitive presence that students engage with content, and a social presence that students engage with each other. I’m here. One of his few mining-related NSF grants was awarded to the Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering for this project. This project will fund three different PhDs. Students from three different universities.

Mining classes are typically very small, so the group shares a module for Michigan Tech students and also offers a simplified module for Nevada high school students.