Virtual Reality Learning Environments for Rock Engineering, Geology and Mining Education

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Virtual reality (VR) can be used to enhance teaching in engineering education as it enables designing interactive and immersive exercises integrated with digitized learning spaces. In this paper, we demonstrate two VR learning systems related to rock engineering, geology and mining education developed at Aalto University, Finland. First is the Virtual Underground Training Environment created for the training of structural mapping and rock mass characterization. It consists of a photorealistic 3D model of the Underground Research Laboratory of Aalto University and virtual replicas of mapping tools. It was tested on students and the results demonstrated that training in VR reduces scatter in measured learning outcomes and increases the active learning time by +50%. The second VR learning system was developed for teaching students how to identify rocks and minerals. A collection of more than 100 rock and mineral specimens was digitized using photogrammetry and turned into a digital online learning asset. The two virtual learning systems demonstrate that VR can be a powerful tool to enhance learning in engineering education. Besides the educational potential, the photogrammetric digital models generated for the VR learning systems can be used for remote inspection and rock mass characterization, visualization, and communication of multidimensional data.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication54th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium, 28 June - 1 July
Subtitle of host publicationphysical event cancelled
PublisherAmerican Rock Mechanics Association
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9794975-5-1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2020
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventU.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium - Golden, United States
Duration: 28 Jun 20201 Jul 2020
Conference number: 54


ConferenceU.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • virtual reality
  • rock engineering
  • education
  • learning
  • mining
  • geology


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