Mehdi Setareh, professor of architecture in Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies, is the principal investigator of a recently funded National Science Foundation (NSF) project.

The project, “Integrating Web-Based Visualization with Structural Systems Understanding to Improve the Technical Education of Architects,” is a four-year undertaking with a total budget of $499,833.

The project consists of the development of a design knowledgebase focusing on building structures, in addition to the state-of-the art virtual environment system for building design. As part of the project, a large portable display using a rear-projection screen will be procured for the College of Architecture and Urban Studies Virtual Environment Lab.

The research work will be an extension of a previous National Science Foundation-funded project in which the researchers developed a virtual reality structural analysis program. However, the main research goal of the new project will be the incorporation and advancement of Building Information Modeling to enable architecture students, practicing architects, or engineers to integrate the various elements of building design, in particular the architectural and structural components.

As part of the project, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies will establish a new Center for Advanced Digital Media to further facilitate the diffusion of the developed material from the project. The project co-principal investigators at Virginia Tech are Nicholas Polys, director of visualization at IT Management; Brett Jones, associate professor in the School of Education; and Michael Ermann, associate professor and architecture professional program chair in the School of Architecture + Design. External project partners from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Hampton University will implement and test the material to be developed by the investigators.