Please Note:

This course is no longer being offered

The following is the announcement for the last course offering (Fall 2006)

Engineering 477 -- Course Announcement for Fall Term 2006

Principles of Virtual Reality

Eng 477 - NA 477


Note for Fall Term 2006:
The class will meet for the first time on Tuesday, September 5 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm in #1504 GGBL.
No Laboratory Sessions on September 7 and September 8 !
Laboratory Sessions will start on September 14 and 15.
(See First Week of Classes)

Note: This is only the course announcement. The comprehensive Course Web Site is password-protected and will be made available to enrolled students at the beginning of the term.

This course teaches the fundamentals of Virtual Reality (VR) and provides laboratory experiences in the UofM 3D Lab in the Duderstadt Center (former Media Union) on North Campus.

The course is being offered to students from all schools and colleges at the University of Michigan and emphasizes cross-discipline collaboration and teamwork in group projects.

"Principles of Virtual Reality" has been developed as part of the mission for the Duderstadt Center, a university-wide information technology center on North Campus. The UofM 3D Lab in the Duderstadt Center operates state-of-the-art virtual reality systems (including a CAVE installation) and provides the university community with access to an emerging technology that is expected to dramatically impact all disciplines. Virtual reality is changing the interface between people and information technology by offering new ways for the communication of information, the visualization of processes, and the creative expression of ideas.

If you plan on enrolling in this course or in becoming a faculty advisor, check the Announcements and FAQ's at the bottom of this page from time to time.

Course Objectives:

Understand the technologies, underlying principles, potential and limits of VR - learn about the criteria for useful applications - understand the process of creating virtual environments - gain practical skills by using existing tools in lab sessions - develop a complete VR application through interdisciplinary group projects.


Introduction - Enabling Technologies of VR - Definition and Characteristics of VR - Applications - Human Factors and Human Perception - Computer Graphics Principles for VR - Geometric Modeling Principles for VR - Modeling of Virtual Environments - Existing Tools - Special Topics

Laboratory Sessions:

Basics and Introduction - VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language on the WWW) - 3D Studio Max (Geometric Modeling) - VRML Scripting - Other Packages and Tools - Preparing Models for CAVE Applications - Group Project Support

Group Projects:

A major part of this course are the interdisciplinary group projects. Lectures and lab sessions will prepare the class for the development of VR applications in any area. Groups of 3 to 5 students will select a topic of their choice and submit a project proposal for evaluation and approval by the teaching staff. The group will then develop a complete VR application, document the project on the World Wide Web, and demonstrate the application to the class. The best projects may be used in future demonstrations and other events at the 3D Lab and Duderstadt Center.

The project topics are determined by the creativity and imagination of the students. Check the summary of Group Projects and see examples from the Eng477 - Fall 2005 class.

Faculty Advisors:

Faculty from all schools and colleges are invited to become involved in this course as advisors for the group projects. Groups may link up with a faculty of their choice. The advisor may suggest topics and is expected to assist in proposal development, to provide discipline specific expertise, and to guide the group in the creation of a convincing VR application. For more information see details on Faculty Advisors.

Assignments, Exam, and Grading:

The final course grade will be based on four or five home work assignments, the student's contribution to a group project, and a final written exam. The group project, as a major part of this course, will contribute 50% to the final grade.

Course Material:

All course material will be provided on a special, password-protected Web site including lecture notes, laboratory notes, useful WWW links, recommended references, time schedule, student roster, faculty advisors, guidelines for group projects, and more. Selected references are available on this public reference page

Course Organization

Course (Subject & Catalog No): Eng 477 (ENGR 477)
NA 477 (NAVARCH 477)

Type: Lectures and Laboratory Sessions:

To register, you must elect one of the three lab sessions (Section 2, 3, or 4) as Primary Section and the lecture (Section 1) as Secondary Section. (You are auto-enrolled in the lecture when electing a lab.)

Credit Hours:


Class Numbers for Fall 2006:
Eng 477
NA 477
Section 1 - Lecture
Section 2 - Laboratory
Section 3 - Laboratory
Section 4 - Laboratory
Note: Section 4 has been closed


Section 1:
Tuesdays 4:30 to 6:30 pm in #1504 GGBL
(Lee Iacocca Lecture Hall in GG Brown Bldg.)

Laboratory Sessions: Lab session in #3336D&B DC (Duderstadt Center,
Advanced Graphics Windows Computer Room)
Section 2: Thursdays
4:30 to 6:30 pm
Section 3: Fridays
2:00 to 4:00 pm
Section 4 : Fridays
4:30 to 6:30 pm
Sec 4 Closed !
Prerequisites: Senior standing or permission by instructor
Interested non-seniors are encouraged to attend, see below at the bottom of this page

Class Size: Total class size is limited to 60 students.
Each of the three lab sessions is limited to 20 students.

First Day of Class: Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Lecture at 4:30 pm in #1504 GGBL

Laboratory Sessions will start
on September 14 (Sec 2) and 15 (Sec 3 and 4)
in #3336D&B MU

Instructor: Klaus-Peter Beier
office: #225 NAME
phone: 764-4296

Related Links

Announcements and FAQ's

Check this section from time to time for answers to frequently asked questions and for current information on enrollment status, first week of classes, open house events, etc.

First Week of Classes

The class will meet for the first time on Tuesday, September 5 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm in #1504 GGBL (Lee Iacocca Lecture Hall in G.G. Brown Laboratories on North Campus). During this lecture, we will give an introduction to virtual reality and discuss course organization. It is most important to attend the first lecture. We will resolve waitlist problems and overrides.

There will be no Laboratory Sessions during the first week (i.e., no Lab on September 7 and 8.)

The Laboratory Sessions will begin on Thursday, September 14 (Section 2 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm) and Friday, September 15 (Section 3 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and Section 4 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm). During the first weeks, the Laboratory Sessions will be held in #3336D&B DC (Duderstadt Center, Advanced Graphics Windows Computer Room, 3rd floor).

Enrollment Status and Other Information

Current enrollment information for Eng 477 can be obtained from Wolverine Access as follows:

Go to Wolverine Access and click on "UM Course Catalog" under the header "public".

Other information previously found in the printed Time Schedule (academic calendar, deadlines, final exam schedule, etc.) can be found at the RO Web site

Waitlist Policy

If you are on the waitlist for this course, you must attend the first day of class (Tuesday, September 5, at 4:30 pm in #1504 GGBL) in order to qualify for an override. Because of last minute disenrollments, there are usually sufficient openings to accommodate a large part of the waitlisted students. But, as mentioned before, you have to show up on September 5.

Openings will be filled using the following, strictly observed priority policy:

The section I like to enroll in is full

If the laboratory section you like to enroll in is full but other sections are still open, you have two options:

I like to switch to another section

You can switch from one laboratory section to another section if there is space in your preferred section. The switching is done on a first-come first-serve basis. Send an e-mail to the instructor requesting the switch.

Is this the right course for me (I'm not an engineer) ?

Eng 477 does not require special computer knowledge, programming expertise, or a strong mathematical background. The lab sessions will teach the required skills. Assignments and group projects can be accomplished without programming. However, a certain affection for computers and familiarity with the Windows operating system, the World Wide Web, home page creation, and geometric modeling are very helpful. If you are not familiar with these topics, you should be prepared to spend initially more time on acquiring these skills. The teaching staff will be ready to help you.

Project groups should include student's from different disciplines, thereby, complementing technical skills with imagination, creativity, and innovative ideas. Engineering students should work side-by-side with liberal arts and other students and practice problem solving in a team environment.

Lectures and lab sessions present a considerable amount of technical information required for the successful development of a VR application. You should not only be interested in the fascinating aspects of VR, but also willing to learn and apply the particulars. The goal of the course is not only to understand VR, but also to do it. In the past, the completion of an exciting VR project was a rewarding experience for many students from different disciplines.

Course Load

The group projects require significant efforts and a substantial time commitment, specifically during the last two months of the term. Keep this in mind when you plan your total course load for the term. If you plan on taking other courses that require to finish a project by the end of the fall term, you should reconsider your course strategy.

I'm not yet a senior, can I get an override and attend the class?

Wolverine Access will only allow seniors or graduate students to enroll. If you are not yet a senior, you can attend the class if there are open spaces after the official waitlist has been processed. We maintain a special waitlist for non-seniors. To get on that waitlist, send an e-mail to the instructor. You must show up at the first day of class in order to keep your place on that waitlist.

Last Update: July 9, 2008, kpb

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