A Matterport-based Integrated Virtual Laboratory Environment for Engineering Students
2023-09-14, 10:50– (Asia/Tokyo), 4F Large Conference Room

Given the emergence of technological advancements like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, it is imperative for engineering education to keep up with industry demands. To achieve this, one promising approach is the utilization of virtual labs which provide students with practical training in a simulated environment. In this paper, the authors proposed the use of Matterport, a 3D camera and virtual tour platform, to create a virtual Thermofluids lab for Year 1 Engineering students in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Matterport's ability to create highly detailed and accurate 3D models of physical spaces makes it an ideal tool for building virtual labs. The virtual environment was furnished with instructional videos and simulation data to enhance interactivity.

The Matterport virtual lab was used as a substitute for in-person instructor-led lab for peri-corona home-based learning and as a supplementary learning resource for post-corona hybrid learning. To evaluate the efficacy of the Matterport virtual lab, the authors conducted a comparative analysis of students’ laboratory performance results for three different semesters (pre-corona, peri-corona, and post-corona periods) involving cohorts of 400 students each. There was a 4.3% deviation in the mean and median laboratory scores between the pre-corona and peri-corona results, indicating that students achieved similar learning outcomes and competencies while completing the perfect gas experiment solely through the virtual lab during peri-corona as compared to in-person instructor-led lab during pre-corona. Based on the same metrics, it was also observed that the post-corona results showed a 7.36% improvement compared to pre-corona results. This suggests that students seemed to be able to effectively use the virtual lab as a supplementary learning resource to enhance their learning. Furthermore, an evaluation survey conducted with the students revealed that on average, each student spent an extra 28.5 minutes on the virtual lab in addition to the 1-hour instructor-led experiment weekly. The 47.5% increase in time spent by each student in the lab during post-corona as compared to pre-corona may have contributed to the observed improvement in grades. These findings indicate that virtual labs have the potential to be an effective and efficient alternative to traditional face-to-face labs. Additionally, they serve as a flipped learning and recap tool that extends students’ learning, thus offering possibilities for enhancing engineering education.

This paper proposes the use of Matterport, a 3D camera and virtual tour platform, to create Thermofluids virtual lab environment for engineering students. Matterport’s ability to create detailed 3D models of physical spaces is ideal for building virtual labs. The cloud platform had been a valuable tool during the corona pandemic as students can access it anytime, anywhere, even with campus closure. Subsequently, the virtual lab served as a vital learning tool that supplements the in-person, instructor-led lab for post-corona hybrid learning. An evaluation survey showed that students achieved similar learning objectives in both virtual lab and traditional in-person lab. Moreover, when the virtual lab was used to supplement the in-person, instructor-led lab, there was improvement in the students’ performance results. This concludes that virtual labs may have the potential to be used as an alternative or supplement to in-person labs.


Engineering education, virtual labs, Matterport, 3D camera, virtual tour platform, simulated environment, Thermofluid lab, perfect gas expansion equipment, post-corona era.

See also: Final paper