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Augmented Reality in Civil Engineering

  • 08 October, 2018

Augmented Reality in Civil Engineering

Augmented reality (AR) has become increasingly popular in many fields and has made its way into the engineering field. If you aren't familiar with what AR is, it can be defined as "an enhanced image or environment as viewed on a screen or other display, produced by overlaying computer-generated images, sounds, or other data on the real-world environment."i AR is sometimes confused with virtual reality (VR), but they are actually very different. VR is typically experienced with a lens of some sort, such as the HoloLens, and "simulates a physical presence, both real world places and imagined worlds, allowing the user to interact with that world."ii

If you aren't familiar with AR technology, you may be wondering what use it has in the engineering field. AR is becoming more and more popular in construction engineering. Engineers who work in construction can scale a 3D model of the structure that is being built by using the technology and therefore improving awareness of the overall design. Vineet Kamat, an associate professor at University of Michigan, believes augmented reality is a great tool to use in construction. "We use augmented reality to plan a construction site. What might it look like when construction machines come into the environment? This way, by planning in the virtual environment, we can learn from our mistakes and avoid making mistakes without incurring real resources or incurring actual costs or injuring anybody's safety," the professor explained in an interview.iii

AR technology can also significantly improve site safety. For example, when a building is being constructed, it must periodically be inspected to ensure that the structure is stable and aligns with the building model plan. When inspectors go through a building to inspect it, they can use AR technology to detect mismeasurements, faults in the structure, and even send reports to the engineers who worked on designing the building. When using AR to inspect a building, "problem areas become easier to recognize, and serious concerns can be identified and shared instantly with those who can immediately respond: pre-empting major structural errors and costly build time."iv

With this exciting engineering technology emerging, now is a great time to go into the civil engineering field. To make the process of becoming a licensed civil engineer as smooth and as stress free as possible, School of PE offers an 84-hour PE Civil exam review course, which covers both the breadth and depth portions of the exam. Past PE Civil students have had great success with School of PE, as 90% of School of PE's PE Civil students passed in October 2017.

What are you waiting for? Begin preparing for the PE Civil engineering exam today and get your hands on some AR technology!


i. Augmented Reality. Retrieved from https://www.dictionary.com/ browse/augmented-reality

ii. Cundle, M. Augmented Reality in Engineering. Retrieved from https://www.rs-online.com/ designspark/augmented reality-in-engineering

iii. Improving construction safety with augmented reality [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=i1fBiFSwoX4

iv. Augmented Reality Solutions for Construction Inspection [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=8lY4qaVvR8c

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