One of the core research areas of CIVS is virtual learning/training. Through this research, new frontiers are being explored for student learning and employee training. Two current examples in this area of research are the Virtual Blast Furnace Simulator for U.S. Steel’s Iron-making Academy, and Mixed Reality Simulators for Wind Energy Education funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s FIPSE program.
The blast furnace is a key component of steelmaking and has many complex processes and phenomena. Due to the difficulties associated with traditional blast furnace training, CIVS developed Virtual Blast Furnaces based on real furnace structures and operating conditions through 3D visualization and CFD simulations. One of them was specifically used for training engineers and operators from U.S. Steel. Brian Koon of Fairfield Works, who took part in the training, said “This interactive model helped me visualize the material flowing through the process which was very helpful in understanding the flow dynamics.”
Another area benefiting from virtual training is wind energy. CIVS was awarded a $749,853 grant to develop multiple simulators to help train the wind energy professionals of tomorrow. CIVS is developing and evaluating simulators for multiple platforms including PC, web, tablets, smart phones, and virtual reality. Simulators are being used and evaluated at multiple colleges and have showed positive impacts on student learning.