Engineer visualisation for training

Short description Screen shots System architecture Tests Acknowledgements   References    
  Short description

Training engineer students to become experts in NDT, usually hire experts in specific line of business, like maintenance of engines, ships, aircrafts or maintenance of pipelines in oil or nuclear industry, need to invest funding for increase performance and quality in education for NDT courses. NDT methods and equipment require more IT as technology evolves. Nevertheless, education and training processes starts to use new technologies as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). This why, each NDT research and development centre should require IT experts and VR/AR-based training environments to instill basic comprehensive knowledge in NDT.

In the following is presented EngView, an example of successful integration of virtual reality-based NDT equipment in standard education at OVIDIUS University of Constanta. With EngView, new technical engineers with strong understanding of NDT are educated in more efficient way. NDT as a profession today still does not have the broad interception in general technical education, however here we would like to present our example where experience teaches us that it is possible to integrate virtual NDT equipment in regular study program.

The Virtual and Augmented Reality Research lab (CERVA) together with NDT department of OVIDIUS University of Constanta, are currently using methods that improve the learning/training activities and permits the maintaining of close collaboration with local companies and other research institutes. In this direction, our team develops a modular three components-based NDT 3D system; the real NDT equipment (see screenshots), its virtual replica, and the training software for students that integrate practical work with theory.

Our main pedagogical objective is to assure to our students such a rapid and successful integration. But the difficulty of this task rise due different factors. One of the most important is the difference level of knowledge that the students attains during their studies. Another is the student level of interest in the presented information and, with the same importance factor, the student motivation to learn.

Individual different speed of learning varies from person to person. Often, theory is easier to grasp than to translate into practice. Or vice-versa, practical skills are quickly achieved, even without any basic understanding of the theory. Despite of this situation, NDT suppose both theoretical and practical skills to be well achieved.






The used architecture in NDT training process suppose the existence of the real NDT scanning device as well as the control (trainer’s) computer (figure 3) completed with an experimental DB used as tested experiments repository.

In the real environment, the trainer/user may setup the experiment parameters and control the real scanning device on the three axes through the SMMC interface. Based on three levels, SMMC module permits the control of the crane-like mechanical device based on step-by-step engines. The most visible layer represents a configurable user interface which detects the user commands and transmits them to the intermediary level. At the intermediary level, the user commands are coded according to the adopted system solution. Using a specific driver, the intermediary level is linked to the low-level layer. This level contains the specific hardware drivers (parallel and USB ports, and acquisition card SMC4 – Physical Acoustic Corporation). According to the scanning device movements and the experiment conditions, it obtains the ultrasound signal for analysis and characterization. The real experimental measurements were obtained by the immersion testing method, where the transducer is placed in the water, above the test object, and a beam of sound is projected (Zagan 2003).

The tutor is working with real architecture system to collect the signals received by the transducer (echo waveforms) from different samples, were sent to an oscilloscope, where their amplitude and velocity were read directly from the sampler which performs the sampling of the signals. The current experiments’ parameters, material characterization and analysis results obtained using the real setup are all stored for later use in (self) training sessions.

The real experimental setup is extended with virtual copies of the real scanning device, copies that implements the full functionalities of the real ones, together with correspondent trainee’s computers. This way, the trainer actions within real environment may be broadcasted in real-time at all active 3D virtual copies of the scanning configuration, through EngView. This actually represents the basis in our educational and training process.


EngView propose a friendly user interface which accomplish the level of NDT equipment networking with latest IT/VR/AR technology, and enables subjects to achieve practical and theoretical skills needed by NDT to be integrated in standard program. As shown in figure 1.b), EngView integrates SMMC module at each trainee working station. Using this interface, the students may controls the movements of the virtual 3D scanning installation and may repeat the shown experiments. When the real configuration is available, they may test it in real conditions (but not concurrently).

Moreover, the trainee obtained experimental parameters are compared and analyzed at the trainer site in order to identify, characterize and publish the ultrasound signals. This way, the trainer is able to evaluate the trainee achievement of knowledge/skills level concerning individual NDT operation methodology.

We have considered the virtual environment as a space of human experience, as proposed in (Popovici, 2004), an reactive agent-based model that permits the user’s setting in the situation, the perception of space by its user, as well as the user’s evolution in this space. In other words, everything inside the virtual space is an agent, able to perceive, decide, and react based on its profile, internal structure, and tasks, to the environment evolution, so to the user actions also; as virtual scanning installation movement components.

The EngView is mainly based on the ARéVi API, developed by CERV (European Virtual Reality Centre, Brest, France), for the user immersion within the simulated virtual environment, as well as on C++ software components (as SMMC) that connects the virtual environment to the scanning machine control software (Reignier et al., 1998). ARéVi API has the advantage that is open source, is C++ and OpenGL based, and is adaptive to very different configurations starting from desktop systems, and ending with 3D stereoscopic immersion systems.


Thank goes to our friends and partners within INTUITION (FP6-IST-NMP-1-507248-2) WG 2.9 - Education and Traning, and from CERV, Brest, France, for their constant support, as well as to CERVA team. We gratefully acknowledge the Romanian Education Ministry funding for this work by RELANSIN no. 2075/01.10.2004 grant. Finally, special mentions for our students Mihai Iulian and Lupu Remus for their contribution in software development.


[1]Zagan R., Petculescu P., Prodan G., Peride N., “Comparison between ultrasonic and wavelets analysis for characterization stainless steel alloys”, World Congress on Ultrasonic, Paris, september 7-10, 2003,  ISSN 1312-1669, pp. 62 – 64.

[2] P. Reignier, F. Harrouet, S. Morvan, J. Tisseau, T. Duval,  ARéVi:  A Virtual Reality Multiagent Platform, Lectures Notes in Computer Science, 1434 (1998) p 229-240.

[3] ARéVi API software developed by the European Virtual Reality Center, CERV, Brest, France. or

[4] Popovici, D.M. (2004a): Modeling the space in virtual universes, PhD Thesis: Politehnica University of Bucharest.