Connected Learning and Integrated Course Knowledge in the Industrial Engineering Curriculum

Omar Ashour
Associate Professor
Penn State Behrend

This poster presents the results of the NSF project entitled Leveraging Virtual Reality (VR) to Connect Learning and Integrate Course Knowledge (CLICK) in the Industrial Engineering Curriculum (award #1834465). The project aims to address the problems in the current curriculum structure as well as challenges related to immersive technologies. The traditional course-centric curriculum structure fails to connect the fundamental topics that the students need to master and use to solve real-world problems.

Guiding Questions:
The project is addressing the following research questions: 1) how the CLICK approach can be used to integrate the Industrial Engineering curriculum; and 2) What is the effectiveness of immersive technology (VR and 3D simulation models) in improving students’ motivation, engineering identity, and learning outcomes.

The project resulted in developing VR and 3D simulation environments. These environments were used in four IE courses including probability and statistics, operations research, and discrete-event simulation. Experiments were carried out in these courses and the results of these experiments have been published in several conferences and journal publications. The CLICK approach has improved students’ motivations and engagement in the classroom. It should be noticed that the original experiment setup was interrupted by COVID-19 and the sudden shift to online learning over the last 2 years.

Broader Impacts:
The proposed approach can improve the students’ understanding of the “big picture” of how concepts taught in the IE curriculum fit together. Better understanding leads to more motivation, persistence, and retention as well as better engineering graduates. The project efforts have resulted in developing virtual systems and instructional material that can be used by others to teach IE concepts. The resulted approach provides the foundation for curriculum integration using virtual systems that leverage immersive technologies. In addition, this effort provides the foundation for deeper investigation and wider expansion of the proposed approach across the entire higher educational system as well as the pre-college system. The results have been disseminated in several conferences and journal publications including ASEE, ASME IDETC, STEM for ALL Multiplex, and the Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering.