Eastern Michigan University unveils virtual reality laboratory in College of Technology

Facility’s broad community applications include highway bridge building, training for paramedics and first responders

Eastern Michigan University unveils virtual reality laboratory in College of Technology

YPSILANTI – The Eastern Michigan University College of Technology unveiled the University’s first virtual reality laboratory in a public ceremony today in Sill Hall.

President Smith and Farah Harb of Ford cut the ribbon at Eastern's Virtual Reality lab.
EMU President James Smith and Farah Harb, Global Education Programs Analyst with Ford Motor Company, cut the ribbon at the University's virtual reality laboratory.

The lab, located in room 115 of Sill Hall, at the eastern end of campus, is an immersive and active virtual reality environment integrated with the state of the art hardware and software. The facility serves as a teaching, training and research tool for Eastern Michigan University students and the greater community.

"This is an exciting moment," said President James Smith. "The virtual reality aspect is really phenomenal, and the work that goes on here will transfer into many engineering fields."

Mohamad Qatu, dean of the College of Technology, noted that the lab will be utilized in a variety of COT programs, such as Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Product Design and Development, Electrical Engineering and Electrical Engineering Technology.

Farah Harb, Global Education Programs Analyst for Ford Motor Company, which funded the fourth wall (floor level) of the lab, said she is "excited to see what students will come up with here over the years."

Professor Emad Tanbour, the coordinator of EMU's mechanical engineering program, who also has 17 years of industry experience, oversaw the lab’s design, acquiring the needed hardware and software along with constructing the physical environment.

After earning his bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering from the Jordan University of Science and Technology, he received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa.

The lab is being used in a wide variety of ways, including implementation in undergraduate capstone design courses, research in reconfigurable manufacturing, and design visualization.

Tanbour said the lab has wide community uses as well, for example as a training environment for highway bridge building, through a joint effort with the Construction Management faculty in the College of Technology.

The college has also worked with Huron Valley Ambulance, which services a variety of counties in southeastern Michigan, in developing a virtual design of an ambulance patient compartment, to be used for training purposes, Tanbour said. Also planned is the development of virtual accident scenes, to be used to train paramedics and first responders.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves 20,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

September 10, 2018

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom