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Texas A&M at Qatar project cited by VR industry leader WorldViz

Published Sep 28, 2020


WorldViz, one of the virtual reality (VR) industry’s leading solutions providers, recently cited a Texas A&M at Qatar VR project in its annual report.

The project, "Active Student Engagement in Learning-Using Virtual Reality Technology to Develop Professional Skills for Petroleum Engineering Education," was developed by Research Computing in collaboration with faculty from the Petroleum Engineering Program. The project was funded through the Center for Teaching and Learning's Transformative Educational Experience grant awarded to Dr. Ali Sheharyar, Dr. Albertus Retnanto, Dr. Mohamed Fadlelmula and Dr. Nayef Alyafei in the 2017-2018 funding cycle. 

The VR application developed in the project runs in Texas A&M at Qatar's visualization facility (the “CAVE”) and has benefited petroleum engineering students by allowing them to interactively explore the hydrocarbon exploration and production ecosystem. Using an interactive feedback device called the “fly stick” — a kind “air mouse” used to navigate a 3D space — students are able to fly through an offshore oil production platform as a consumer camera drone might do and observe different parts of the facility in great detail.  

From a distance, participants may also view not only the oil platform but also nearby transport ships used to move people, supplies and equipment to and from onshore facilities. Participants are also able to submerge beneath the ocean surface to observe drilling pipes descending from the platform to the seabed, and then breaking through the ocean floor until they reach various points within an oil and gas reservoir. Oil wells can also be observed on the ocean floor. A sample reservoir dataset was exported from Schlumberger’s Petrel application to visualize the sub-sea reservoir in the Vizard VR environment. The integration of all these elements within a single virtual reality environment allows the students to clearly understand the relationships between the parts and to have a better understanding of the production workflow in a shorter span of time.

The VR application has been developed in the Python programming language using the Vizard software developed by WorldViz. Vizard is one of several VR frameworks used in the CAVE. Some of the leading organizations that use Vizard for their research and development needs include NASA, Boeing and Stanford University.