Augmented Reality represents the next frontier at SCC

Article by: Adam Orr

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On Wednesday, SCC officials showed off the new immersive technology, outlined the ways we know it can be used right now and highlighted the industry partnerships which made it possible.

SCC President Henry Giles Jr. called the new tools a game changer, and said they bring new dimensions to the classroom and learning. Augmented reality applications and tools allow digital overlays and information on top of the physical world, according to Giles.

It s one thing for students to read about a technique, but it s a completely different learning opportunity for students to actually experience and complete a process in their own classroom/lab setting via AR, Giles said.

The digital overlays can act as a kind of guide for students, allowing them to learn and perform new skills in precisely the right way, according to SCC Manufacturing Technologies Department Chair Jay Coffer. The overlays can even offer students real time feedback on their performance.

It s an opportunity to get consistent training on procedures and training in the classroom, Coffer said. It ll allow us to take subject matter experts and digitally document the proper way of doing things, that will be consistent throughout every classroom.

The systems and tools come thanks to partnerships with and donations and grants from SeeDaten, Inc., ioxp GmBh and Milliken & Company, along with the South Carolina Research Authority. SCC officials said ioxp GmBh and SeeDaten based at the college s Spark Center SC in Duncan made in-kind donations in excess of $135,000 to install, train and support, the new tools.

Milliken has offered an in-kind donation to assist SCC in raising the bar for educational excellence and to prepare students for movement into Milliken s modern manufacturing operations.

Coffer said he believes nearly every one of the college s programs could benefit from the new augmented reality devices, and believes students learning foundational skills in specific disciplines could benefit the most.

We ve had some test runs already in the health sciences, where there s been a lot of positive faculty feedback already, Coffer said. Think of what sounds like really simple skills - properly washing and sanitizing your hands - but ones where details really matter. Students can use these tools to practice and then immediately know whether they re doing it right or not.

The tools also allow subject matter experts and SCC faculty members to break down skills step-by-step in an intuitive manner, according to Coffer, and pass that knowledge on to students in a consistent way. He said experts internalize much of their knowledge and sometimes fail to include crucial steps beginners need to know.

You can ask someone who s been doing something for 20 years and they ll say, we can teach that in five steps, Coffer said. In reality, it s eight or nine steps and they ve just forgotten what it was like to learn this new. If that s the case here, faculty can go in and edit and delete specific sequences so that it stays up-to-date.

Giles said mastering the new tools will be essential for SCC graduates, many of whom will encounter similar teaching systems on-the-job. He said Milliken & Company takes advantages of augmented reality systems in its facilities.

The more important point, Giles said, is that augmented reality tools will likely be much improved two or three years from now.

What it needs is a bunch of creative people playing with it, Giles said. You re going to see that here and at Milliken, where you ve got creative user groups who will try and test and try again. There will be interesting ways to use this that we don t even fully visualize right now.

He said the tools could also be adapted to document specific skills required by employers that could be added to a job hunter s personnel file, for instance, or as a way to save institutional knowledge for the future.

Milliken, for instance, or any place where you have a lot of baby boomers with all this knowledge who are getting ready to retire, you could have them document their process and why they do what they do for the future, Giles said. How this engine or this particular solenoid is changed and why. There s a chance to make sure that stuff doesn t slip away.

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