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Teaching Virtual Environments Nick Avis and Derek Wills

Nick and Derek started by discussing their MSc in Computer Graphics and Virtual Environments course at Hull. This started in 1994 when it had 8 students, rising to 13 in 1995/6 and is expected to be over 25 in 1996/7. The student backgrounds include computer science, physics, business studies, etc. The department has EPSRC support

 

The course involves eight taught modules plus dissertation project:

 

Computer Graphics

Visualization

Object oriented Software Engineering

Computing Skills

Project Skills

Graphics Application Systems

High Performance Computing for Graphics

Virtual Environments

 

The speakers see virtual reality as the integration of:

 

Computer Graphics

Visualization

Object Oriented Software Engineering

Computing Skills

Project Skills

Graphics Application Systems

High Performance Computing for Graphics

 

The course involves both taught modules and practicals and the assessment is through exams and coursework. Open book exams and 100% coursework are being considered.

 

Hardware ranges from PCs to unix workstations and a ratio of 1 workstation to 2 students is the aim. dVS/dVISE (version 2, upgraded to version 3)is used as the package for most applications.

 

Examples of projects include:

 

the use of stereoscopic vision in arthroscopy training
video walkthroughs
interactive soft object animation tool
Monte-Carlo radiosity

 

Group projects are also undertaken.

 

The department collaborates with various companies including: PERA
Halifax, VR Solutions Ltd

 

Student feedback and lessons learnt include:

 

students find module enjoyable/challenging

exposure to new concepts is enjoyable

students expect exposure to immersive technology which is achieved through a trip to SGI Reality Centre to see state-of-the art systems/peripherals

 

This is an ever changing area and the course needs constant update. There also needs to be a greater robustness of software tools with systems not yet sufficiently stable. There is a need for standards in this area and for support of teachers. Textbooks are needed.

 

The speakers suggested that people could be helped by the following:

 

need to collaborate to produce robust, high quality teaching material

on-line archives of models etc

executable lecture notes

better textbooks

loan equipment?

support on curriculum development

identify VE centres to develop key components of lecture material

list of visiting speakers

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