Virtual Reality and Information Centric Engineering Lab (VRICE)

Our Virtual Reality and Information Centric Engineering (VRICE) lab is part of the Center for Cyber Physical Systems (CyPS) at OSU.  Dr. J. Cecil directs the VRICE laboratory and also serves as the Co-Director of CyPS.

Our group is a pioneer in information centric engineering related research and educational activities in various engineering domains (from advanced manufacturing to space systems).

We have also pioneered the design of Virtual Learning Environments involving adoption of Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) technology. 

Our research has contributed to some of the key foundational aspects underlying collaborative engineering approaches which fall under the broad term of  ‘Internet-of-Things’ (IoT) and Cyber Physical Systems (CPS).

ICE broadly refers to the study and use of information technology based principles, modeling approaches and computing frameworks in process design activities. ICE recognizes the substantial impact that information (and its seamless exchange) has on the accomplishment of collaborative engineering, medical and other process activities (especially in a Virtual Enterprise oriented context). Today, the role of information in an engineering enterprise has changed dramatically: information is recognized as a powerful entity, which drives the accomplishment of a myriad of processes and integrates various life-cycle activities across a range of domains. With the development of the Next Internet as part of the GENI, EU FIRE, US Ignite and other Smart Cities initiatives, the onset of the next IT revolution is well underway which will impact healthcare, manufacturing, education and other engineering domains in a significant manner.

The Three Core Facets of Information Centric Engineering (ICE)

The three core facets of ICE are:

  • Modeling of Information
  • Simulation (Visualization of Information)
  • Exchange of Information

Modeling encompasses the creation of information models and adoption of information modeling techniques to design and automate various process engineering tasks; it also includes the design and study of modeling languages to build such information models as well as the process underlying the creation of information intensive process models across various domains.

Simulation focuses on the design of Virtual Prototyping approaches based on Virtual Reality (VR) technology and the investigation of innovative VR based simulation techniques for process design and analysis. Other issues of interest include the study of representation of ‘Objects of Interest (OOI)’ (which can range from high fidelity modeling and visualization of mechanical objects to representation of tissue and cellular membranes)

Exchange includes a broad umbrella of activities including exploration of IT based techniques and frameworks which support seamless information exchange (such as cyber computing frameworks) to enable distributed collaborative engineering and integration activities. Recently, with the advent of the Next Generation Internet (as part of the GENI and US Ignite initiatives), there has been a growing realization of the importance of such activities.  The design of ultra-fast high gigabit networks to support manufacturing, health care and education as well as the adoption of cloud computing techniques fall under this category.

The design of Internet-of-Things (IoT) based Cyber Manufacturing methods and frameworks as well as design of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) encompass principles spanning these multiple facets; a large segment of our work involves creation of advanced Virtual Prototyping based approaches and frameworks based on use of physics based Virtual Reality techniques and technologies to support cross functional analysis and distributed collaboration.

We have pioneered Next Generation Internet based approaches for distributed collaborative applications (ranging from agile assembly of micro devices to using Virtual Reality based simulation environments to train orthopedic surgeons).

If you are interested in joining our research group as a student,faculty or as an industry collaborator, please contact Dr. J. Cecil (j.cecil@okstate.edu).

An IoT Based Cyber Manufacturing Test Bed for Assembly of Micro Devices

Smart Technology Based Training Simulators for Orthopedic Surgery

Activities & Achievements

VRICE is well known for its Information Centric Engineering (ICE) work which emphasizes the modeling, simulation and exchange of information to support product and process design activities. This ICE related work has been instrumental in enabling industrial organizations adopt virtual engineering methods and digital manufacturing approaches to support distributed collaboration. We have developed such ICE approaches for advanced manufacturing, space systems and bio medical environments.

Dr. Cecil is an acknowledged leader and scholar in information centric engineering; a large segment of his work involves creation of advanced Virtual Prototyping based approaches and frameworks based on use of physics based Virtual Reality techniques and technologies to support cross functional analysis and distributed collaboration; other aspects of his work include design of smart factories, IoT and CPS based frameworks for manufacturing, tele-medicine and space systems contexts.

Some of VRICE’s notable activities and achievements include the following:

  • Developed the first Virtual Reality based simulation environment  to facilitate evaluation of satellite designs from downstream perspectives including assessment of manufacturing/assembly feasibility, service and launch analysis. This Virtual Satellite Analysis environment enables cross functional analysis essential to supporting Concurrent Engineering based design process and was used in several satellite design projects
  • Achieved a notable milestone in spring 2013 by creating a Cloud based Digital Manufacturing framework using the Next Internet (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwxXZqn7R34); this was the first Digital Manufacturing application demonstrating a unique cyber physical application involving distributed planning, simulation and assembly of micron sized part devices
  • Developed the first physics based Virtual Reality environment which would enable engineers and doctors to interactively study the effects of mechanical forces on blood cells. His collaborative work with Dr. J. N. Reddy (Texas A&M University) provided more insights on the behavior of red blood cells (especially those infected with sickle cell disease) when they are deformed using Holographic Optical Traps (HOT)
  • Working with orthopedic surgeons, we have developed an advanced Virtual Reality environment (2013) to support training of surgical residents from distributed locations; this physics based Virtual Reality based environment allows residents to use a haptic device and improve their surgical skills which can also be guided through an expert surgeon who can be at a different location. Several medical residents in different geographical locations can interact at the same time with the simulator.
  • Unique REU project targeting undergraduate students with physical challenges (majoring in engineering and sciences) seeking to expose them to research experiences in Information Centric Engineering (ICE) and encouraging them to graduate research careers.
  • Home of the Soaring Eagle program which is a successful outreach and mentoring program aimed at providing workshops for minority and other K-12 students with a goal of providing an early introduction to engineering for school students (learn more)
  • VRICE has pioneered innovating learning techniques based on creation of advanced Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) to support learning of engineering design and manufacturing concepts.
  • We are leading a special interdisciplinary initiative seeking to help children with autism learn science, math and engineering using Virtual Reality based learning environments.
  • We are part of  core group of engineering faculty who are involved with designing technology based applications to support engineering design, manufacturing and educational activities using the Next Internet (which is being developed as part of the Global Environment for Network Innovation and US Ignite initiatives).
  • We organized the First NSF Information Centric Engineering (ICE) workshop, Hersonissos, Greece, Sept 8 -11, 2011 (funded by NSF CMMI).
  • We are active in US Ignite and Smart City related activities including developing ICE frameworks to support IoT / CPS activities and smart cities using ultra-fast networks and digital technologies.

In acknowledgement of Dr. Cecil’s all round emphasis on teaching, research, service and innovation, Dr. Cecil was awarded the Faculty Award for Excellence in support of OSU’s Land Grant Mission.