NSF Funding Helps College of Engineering Support Local High School STEM Programs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The College of Engineering has received several grants from the National Science Foundation related to developing simulation and gaming modules to enhance learning in engineering education. These research projects engaged undergraduate and graduate students in developing simulations in machine design and graphics.

In support of STEM Education in Metro Nashville Public Schools, the College of Engineering is also assisting with the creation of the gaming and simulation laboratory at Stratford STEM Magnet High School, under a partnership with the National Safety and Security Technologies Academy at Stratford.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, who has been affiliated with Stratford High for more than two years, serves as an advisor to the NSST academy, as it transforms the curriculum to STEM disciplines and careers.

“Our college is committed to supporting K-12 education and partnering with MNPS through the Pencil Foundation, and playing a key role in educating future engineering students from our local community,” Hargrove said.

The Foundation, which administers eight educational programs involving volunteers and mentors, links community resources with Metro Nashville Public Schools. It also provides academic enrichment opportunities, and prepares students for graduation.

As part of the COE/NSST partnership, a group of six students and two instructors from Stratford Magnet High School participated in a Virtual Reality Workshop on Oct. 10 at Tennessee State University. The workshop, conducted by Dr. Sachin Shetty, assistant professor of Electrical Engineering, introduced the students to software tools used in commercial Virtual Reality systems.

According to Dr. Shetty, participants gained practical experience creating simulations with Vizard, a 3D engine used to create Virtual Reality Applications.

This was a step up from the 2D gaming module the students had previously been exposed to, according to Roger Osborne, one of the Stratford instructors. “The experience of creating a 3D virtual world and learning techniques to animate 3D characters and objects was extremely valuable,” he said.  “The students were able to ‘learn by doing’ through a sequence of exercises geared toward exposing them to development of a 3D virtual reality game.”

Osborne expressed interest in deploying the Vizard software in the Stratford gaming labs, as well as adopting it to the school’s criminal justice program to help students create an investigative scene in a 3D virtual world.



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