“This is the next frontier of learning and training.”
– Dr. Hamza-Lup

Students Explore Haptics and 3D Simulations in NEWS Lab

Ben Page, a graduate student working towards an M.S. in Computer Science at Armstrong, is currently using state-of-the-art technology at the university's NEWS (Network Enabled Work Spaces) Laboratory to develop interactive three-dimensional simulations to teach Physics.

“My favorite thing about working in the NEWS Lab is the energy that comes from working with a group,” he said. “I think that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to others.”

Under the guidance of NEWS Laboratory director Felix Hamza-Lup, Ph.D., an associate professor of Computer Science and Information Technology at Armstrong, Ben and 30 other graduate and undergraduate students in fields ranging from Computer Science to Information Technology have successfully collaborated on high-tech applications for training and simulation since the lab's founding in 2006. Students have also co-authored a number of research papers, which have been published in leading scientific journals.

The NEWS Laboratory has partnered with the Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando to develop 3D Radiation Therapy Treatment (3DRTT), a patented Web-based, three-dimensional simulation software system for clinical radiation therapy planning and medical personnel training to enhance treatment planning for cancer patients and improve their safety. The facility has also partnered with the Mercer University School of Medicine on Neuro Pathways, a three-dimensional neuro-anatomy simulator that helps medical students more readily comprehend complex neurological concepts.

“There is a huge market for simulation and training in the medical field to improve patient treatment and medical personnel skills” said Dr. Hamza-Lup. “There is also a vast potential for haptics integration into e-learning systems.”

Haptics enhances existing computer-based applications with tactile feedback, using specialized hand-held devices to manipulate virtual objects in space. “This technology has many applications in the medical training and e-learning fields,” Dr. Hamza-Lup explained.

X3D for Physics & Chemistry, another NEWS Laboratory project, helps students better understand the physical and mathematical components of scientific fields. VIEW (Virtual Interactive Engineering on the Web) uses virtual technology to supplement engineering labs in an effort to improve students' understanding of fundamental concepts.

“This is the next frontier of learning and training,” said Dr. Hamza-Lup. “These tools can be used to train surgeons in minimally invasive surgical procedures or educate physics students about hydrodynamics. We envision such systems, used by the next generation of learners, enhancing their knowledge in connection with real-life situations while they train in mandatory safe conditions.”