3D Scanning, Client Stories, Education

Artec 3D scanner inspires virtual labs that help Camosun College students learn from home

By Karen Majerly on February 11, 2022

In a time of remote learning and physical distancing, Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia used its in-house technology and expertise to keep students engaged and learning.

Students in two of its specialized technical programs, both based heavily on hands-on learning, have benefitted from virtual equipment labs that originated with quality scanned data. In the first example, students in the Plumbing and Pipe Trades Foundation program study 3D models of gas appliances. The second is a virtual sonography lab for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. These projects happened thanks to Camosun Innovates, the college’s applied research centre. Its advanced technology and skilled people support local industry, faculty research, and student learning.

For Connor, the Eva provides “a ridiculous level of detail.” Using the Eva is an active experience. You can easily see on screen how you’re capturing the detail in real time. The scanned data is such a full, accurate representation of the object, you’re always confident. There is no guess work.”

Inside the virtual lab, students headed for a career in the plumbing and pipe trades can view 3D models of a fireplace, furnace, water heater, and boiler. Bright green highlights on screen indicate spots where they can reveal a more comprehensive view and annotations. Connor noted that elements of the real-life appliances are not always in plain view or easy to find.

“In the virtual environment, students can see where various labels, parts, and instruments are located. They can learn how to find the make and model, how to take readings, and where important features are located, without having to touch the appliance in the college lab.”

Real-world gas fireplace feature shown next to its virtual twin

Virtual interactive ultrasound console teaches features and functions

Camosun Innovates also developed a virtual sonography lab for students in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. Program Leader for Cardiac Ultrasound, Matthew Barbas explained that the virtual sonography lab allows students to explore, from home, the instrumentation of a complex diagnostic medical ultrasound system. They can hover over the key components and controls to read and understand what happens when manipulating the control panel on the real console. At the same time, the virtual version of the system screen shows what would display on the real system screen.

“I was very impressed with the virtual lab created by Connor and Lucius (another student employee at Camosun Innovates),” Matthew said. “With their amazing 3D scanner and intuitive programming skills, they were able to successfully simulate interacting with the ultrasound console. The students appreciate the level of detail incorporated and say it helps them review where each specific control is located and what function it performs.”

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Improving student learning now and in the future

Connor explained that the virtual reality labs were initially conceived to aid in distance learning, when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented students from having any access to college labs. Longer-term, he said there are other obvious benefits. “The virtual labs are powerful learning tools. They are easily available to students for review anytime they need it, which makes studying easier. I also love this for improving accessibility. Everyone takes in information differently.”

Plus, lab time is always limited, so students arriving to class already familiar with the appliance or machine makes for better use of precious hands-on time. After students complete an “egg hunt” exercise in the virtual gas appliance labs, they arrive in class ready to jump into the real world without further instruction.

Camosun virtual furnace lab

Links to the gas appliance labs are also available on “BC Campus,” a province-wide open-source textbook initiative. This helps students at other post-secondary institutions that don’t have the shop space to house all the various appliances.

Ideas to reality

Connor added that overall, the Artec Eva is a powerful tool with countless creative uses. “We’ve had great success with every application. I quickly felt confident using the hardware and software. Camosun Innovates invests in high-end technology like this because it opens us up to providing more solutions and new ways to bring ideas to reality.”

Learn more about Camosun Innovates at camosun.ca/innovates.

Looking to expand your engineering capabilities to 3D scanning or need a little help capturing the full value of your scanned data? Contact us today to get a demo of our scanners! 

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