Virtual reality simulator lands at McMaster University

Sep 21, 2006
Virtual reality simulator lands at McMaster University
McMaster University unveiled a spaceship-like interactive motion simulator to be used for teaching undergraduate students how to develop software for virtual reality and simulation systems. Pictured (left to right): Martin von Mohrenschildt, chair, computing and software, and Kaska Kowalska, graduate student. Credit: Ron Scheffler

It's the shape and colour of a futuristic space ship. It holds the promise of drawing more young people into the field of information technology.

McMaster University has unveiled the first interactive motion simulator in Canada to be used for teaching undergraduate students how to develop software for simulated flight, driving, real-time game design, medical research, virtual reality systems, and a host of other applications.

The mini-van-sized simulator can accommodate up to five people and features a space-ship-pod fiberglass shell, interior projection system and a Dolby digital surround-sound system. It sits on a Moog-built, six-degrees-of-freedom (surge, sway, heave, roll, pitch, yaw), Steward platform with a 1000 Kg (2,205 pound) payload and 0.6 Gs of acceleration (equivalent to a high-performance sports car).

"It is the same simulator technology used by industry for product development and training but now applied in a classroom setting for teaching," explains Martin von Mohrenschildt, Chair of Computing and Software in the Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University. "Demand for this knowledge continues to increase. For example, automobiles and aircrafts are now first developed virtually and tested using a simulator, before a prototype is built."

The simulator is one of the more visible elements of a new approach to computing and software education that has been developed by the Faculty of Engineering at McMaster. The Faculty is responding to a general decline in university enrollment for computer science and software engineering programs at a time when demand for information technology employees is growing. Other initiatives undertaken include the launch of a degree program in software engineering and game design, as well as programs in mechatronics engineering and business informatics. Plans for a medical informatics program are also underway.

"We are working to dispel the mistaken notion some people have that there are limited career opportunities in information technology," said von Mohrenschildt. "We are developing programs and curriculum around practical applications of computer science and software engineering. Information technology is not just about writing code or building personal computers. It is about creating solutions and solving real problems faced by industry, business, medicine, entertainment, and every sector of our society."

"The simulator is an entry point for students to learn the latest in 4D-modelling techniques for virtual reality, real-time systems and control, animation tools, user interfaces, and sensory feedback," said von Mohrenschildt. "This technology is finding and driving countless other fields including audio and visual modeling, flight simulation, design prototyping, architectural visualization, animation, and digital image processing."

Source: McMaster University

Explore further: UK body warns drone owners: Fly safely, or you'll be fined

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Getting bot responders into shape

Dec 16, 2014

Sandia National Laboratories is tackling one of the biggest barriers to the use of robots in emergency response: energy efficiency.

Recommended for you

GPS used to track some immigrants caught at border

Dec 24, 2014

The Homeland Security Department is experimenting with a new way to track immigrant families caught crossing the border illegally and then released into the U.S.: GPS-enabled ankle bracelets.

Report: FBI's anthrax investigation was flawed

Dec 19, 2014

The FBI used flawed scientific methods to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, federal auditors said Friday in a report sure to fuel skepticism over the FBI's ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.