News Release: $15,000 SUNY Grant to Bring Virtual Reality Tech to SUNY Poly

News Release: $15,000 SUNY Grant to Bring Virtual Reality Tech to SUNY Poly

Tuesday, May 9, 2023 - 11:44
News Releases
SUNY Poly Faculty in the News
Research News
Dr. Zhanjie Li

For Release:           Immediate – May 9, 2023
Contact:                  Steve Ference, Director of University Marketing & Communications | (518) 429-7742 |

SUNY Poly engineering and interactive media & game design programs to collaborate
with one of the world’s largest steel providers

UTICA, NY – The use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technology in the automotive, manufacturing, and construction industries is on the rise. Now, a $15,000 SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG) supporting the Virtual Reality for Engineering Education project will create an interactive learning module and virtual labs, benefitting SUNY Polytechnic Institute engineering and interactive media and game design (IMGD) students by providing access and experience in using this critical technology.

The goal of the project, which is led by Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Dr. Zhanjie Li, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology Dr. Jiayue (Joyce) Shen, and Assistant Professor of Interactive Media and Game Design Dr. Se Jung Kim, is to explore and develop a non-proprietary library of VR videos and models related to solid mechanics, structures, and mechanical equipment, including the creation of virtual labs of solid mechanics and structural analysis through VR models.

Industrial pundits predict that VR (or MR) is going to radically change the way engineers design and manufacture mechanical parts and construct buildings and bridges in the future,” said Li. “If our students can gain experience using this technology while at SUNY Poly, it will greatly prepare them for the future. We thank SUNY for supporting the effort with this grant.”

Rather than simply analyzing a building on paper, engineering students will now gain a more holistic view of the structure by using the VR technology. The project also includes a partnership with the IMGD program for VR model integration and future development of other interdisciplinary projects using VR technologies including capstone projects. This effort will also be done in collaboration with Nucor Buildings Group, one of the largest steel providers in the world, who will provide the Building Information Modeling (BIM) enabled inventory of metal buildings.

Overall, the project will accomplish several significant objectives, which include:

  • Creating an easy-to-access and affordable experimental learning platform for entry-level solid mechanics and structural engineering courses.
  • Integrating 3D CAD modeling, real machine structure, and building structural construction with VR technologies to promote hands-on experiences and stimulate students’ enthusiasm for learning.
  • Developing a detailed pedagogy plan on how to make it more accessible for students and teachers to better incorporate VR technology into the classroom and enhance the perceptions of the solid mechanics and structural models, e.g., a systematical manner in complementing the design courses.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of integrating VR technologies in solid mechanics courses and upper structural analysis and design courses in improving the student's learning outcomes.
  • Exploring and evaluating the potential of online STEM education through a VR lab model, given that in the past, this discipline has relied heavily on conventional face-to-face teaching practices.



About SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly)
SUNY Poly is New York’s globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem. SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience and nanoengineering, as well as cutting-edge nanobioscience programs at its Albany campus, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and the engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, including natural sciences, game design, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences at its Utica campus; thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience. As the world’s most advanced, university-driven research enterprise, SUNY Poly boasts billions of dollars in high-tech investments and hundreds of corporate partners since its inception. For information visit