by Matthew Mueller, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Tufts University
Supported by gifts from PTC, Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) hired a team of undergraduate interns to do research on 3D modeling environments in learning contexts over the summer. They worked on generating curricular supports for students learning Onshape, creating digital twins of LEGO robots that could simulate the physical robot’s motion, and developing new interfaces for spatial computing (control and monitor of robots in augmented reality).
After presenting their summer work in August, the PTC’s Academic Advanced Technology Team hired five of the interns to become the first cohort in the Academic Student Research Associate Program. This semester, the team of interns has built on their work from the summer to develop integrations between various PTC technologies and explore their applications in education. Using Onshape’s application-programming interface (API), they have been able to create CAD models of industrial robots that update in real time with data from the physical robots, along with tools to help simulate and analyze their kinematics. These connections simplify the creation of digital twins that allow engineers to easily test their designs, monitor automated processes, and better understand data in context.
They have also developed new ways of using Vuforia Spatial Toolbox in a classroom by allowing users to program multiple LEGO SPIKE Prime robots in augmented reality. Without the need for a computer interface, students could connect and control their robots directly within the environment that it is acting in. Additionally, they have been developing augmented reality experiences to teach students about the solar system and the human body, enabling them to visualize concepts that are hard to show in two dimensions.
The academic team at PTC looks forward to continuing to support Tufts CEEO’s work to bring digital transformation technologies to the classroom in new and exciting ways while we grow our Academic Student Research Associate Program.