Dr. Cecil has been at the forefront of curriculum innovation emphasizing Digital Learning techniques with experiential learning approaches.  He has pioneered the design and adoption of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and has demonstrated their impact on student learning and engagement.

Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) are an advanced type of Virtual Environments which are graphics intensive and use Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Our cernter is a pioneer in the design and development of VLEs to support teaching of engineering concepts to university and school students. Our pioneering work in the adoption of VLE based approachs has demonstrated their effectiveness to improve student learning and performance.

Virtual Environments involve the use of Virtual Reality technologies in creating a 3 dimensional artificial or synthetic environment which enables users to perform ‘what if’ analysis, understand a target problem as well as compare solution alternatives for a wide range of domains. Such Virtual Environments are widely used in engineering and scientific domains ranging from development of space systems to car manufacturing to address engineering and other problems. Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) are virtual environments created and used for educational and learning contexts [Cecil 12]. Such VLEs provide information rich learning contexts where students can virtually interact with target environments to understand various engineering, scientific and other principles.

Virtual Reality (VR) can be described as a 3 dimensional (3D) computer-generated environment that allows users to interact at 3 levels of immersion: non, semi and full immersion [Cecil 11]. Immersion refers to the ability of a user to ‘go inside a virtual environment’ and touch, navigate and explore more interactively.

Dr. Cecil developed several interdisciplinary engineering courses for undergraduate and graduate students. An overview of some of these courses is provided below.

Avatar view in Virtual Environment

Introduction to Micro Devices Assembly

In the area of Micro assembly, he teaches a senior level / graduate course titled ‘Introduction to Micro Devices Assembly’. In this course, Digital Learning techniques have been adopted including the use of VLEs to teach concepts in genetic algorithms, assembly planning, gripping approaches and work cell design.  Learning assessment activities conducted have demonstrated that use of such VLE based approaches improves student learning and engagement.  Photos below are from students using these VLEs as part of learning activities.


Students (above) exploring use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) to learn basic and advanced concepts in a course on micro assembly


Virtual Engineering for Space Systems