WMU students capture first prize at engineering conference in Istanbul

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Photo of Pietrowicz and Bayne in Istanbul.

Pietrowicz and Bayne in Istanbul

KALAMAZOO, Mich.— Two Western Michigan University students took their work in creating a 3D virtual laboratory to an international student engineering conference in Turkey and came away with a first-place finish.

Eric A. Pietrowicz, an electrical engineering major from Byron Center, and Tyler W. Bayne, a master's student in computer engineering from Kalamazoo, captured the top prize at the 21st International Cultural and Academic Meeting of Engineering Students—ICAMES—held in May at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey. Students from 17 nations participated in the annual event.

Creating a 3D virtual laboratory

The two WMU students both work with Dr. Pnina Ari-Gur, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, on an effort funded by the National Science Foundation and Hewlett Packard that is aimed at developing a virtual 3D laboratory for use in engineering education. For purposes of the ICAMES event, Pietrowicz delivered a paper on the duo's research project, while Bayne served as the graduate student advisor.

The duo's presentation showcased a computer-game style 3D virtual scanning electron microscope that is fully interactive. This simulation and others, such as tensile testing of materials and X-ray diffraction, are being phased into the undergraduate engineering curriculum at WMU as part of the overall research being done under Ari Gur's direction. So far, more than 60 institutions around the globe have requested and received the "hand-on" simulated experiments to use at their sites.

"Even to be accepted to attend this competitive conference is a recognition of a high quality project," says Ari-Gur. "Professors in the audience were impressed with the virtual lab and plan to adopt the simulations for use in their own classes as well."

Bayne is a WMU graduate who was a member of the Lee Honors College. Both Pietrowicz and Bayne were also winners of an earlier WMU Undergraduate Research Excellence award for their work on the 3D virtual laboratory project.

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