Abstract

Limited academic course offerings and high barriers to incorporate industrial additive manufacturing (AM) systems into education has led to an underserved demand for a highly skilled AM workforce. In this research, virtual reality (VR) is proposed as a medium to help teach introductory concepts of AM in an interactive, scalable manner. Before implementing VR as a standard tool to teach introductory concepts of AM, we must evaluate the effectiveness of this medium for the subject. We test the hypothesis that VR can be used to teach students introductory concepts of AM in a way that is as effective as teaching the same concepts in a real-world physical setting. The research also explores differences in learning between participants who engage in a hands-on interactive lesson and participants who engage in a hands-off passive lesson. The study assesses participants’ AM knowledge through pre-/post-AM lesson evaluation. AM conceptual knowledge gained and changes in self-efficacy are evaluated to make an argument for the effectiveness of VR as an AM learning tool. Our findings in this research indicate that both interactive and passive VR may be indeed used to effectively teach introductory concepts of AM; we also found advantages to using interactive VR for improving AM self-efficacy.

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