PTC Academic Summit: Using IoT & AR to Augment Mechanical Engineering

Written By: Delaney McDevitt
  • 7/15/2019
  • Read Time : 4 min

Dr. Chris Rogers recently presented an interactive and exciting session at the PTC Academic Summit at LiveWorx. Dr. Rogers uses ThingWorx and Vuforia Studio in college classes and in his studies with middle school students.

At the college level, his students use ThingWorx and Vuforia Studio to build projects, such as the “Marauder’s Map” from the Harry Potter series; an interactive map that allowed Tufts University students to track IoT data on what was being served in the campus cafeteria; updates on sporting events; and individual’s real-time locations.

At the middle school level, he and his students experimented with using AR as a “just-in-time” help device, helping students debug their code by seeing what the robot was “thinking” when they looked at it through their tablet’s camera. Dr. Rogers showed examples of the students’ work and discussed some of the successes and difficulties of bringing IoT into the classroom.


In the above images, the students scan a ThingMark with an iPad to identify the IoT data (left) that the student is looking at. The AR application then shows that IoT data in the context of what the robot is doing (right).

Technologies in the Classrooms

At Tufts University, Dr. Rogers is part of the Center of Education and Outreach, which spans across both engineering and education. Dr. Rogers and his doctoral students are studying how the brain learns to engineer, they then are applying that knowledge to develop tools in the academic space. Dr. Rogers says, “it’s easy to develop the technology in the lab, [but] it’s much more difficult to make it work in a classroom… with kids with all different learning abilities.” The center works with about 1,000 teachers and roughly 20-30,000 kids a year to try to get engineering in the classroom. The goal is “not necessarily trying to get more engineers, but to get people to think in a logical and engineering fashion,” said Dr. Rogers.

Using IoT and AR as Learning Tools

Dr. Rogers emphasized how, “the amount of knowledge we know is exponentially increasing, yet the days and hours we have to teach people that knowledge is decreasing.” To address this challenge in academe, “we have to rethink what we actually have to do in the classroom,” which is where, “IoT and AR give an opportunity to do some of that.”

To implement IoT and AR in this space, Dr. Rogers uses PTC’s ThingWorx and Vuforia. There are four ways IoT and AR have positive results when used in education:

1. Motivation

Students would be motivated in an interactive learning environment that encourages them to ask why things work the way they do.

2. Just-in-time answers

Access to responses quickly and efficiently with increased visibility in robotics.

3. Automation

Cloud-based in a simulated platform.

4. Information

Receiving information through IoT and AR.

The results that accompany teaching methods to integrate IoT and AR in the classroom are strategically used to provoke curiosity, encourage students to have self-confidence to share knowledge, help people to learn in new ways, and reflect and share skepticism openly. The communication among people—particularly students and educators in this case—improves and addresses the issue of time constraints in today’s digital age.

Interested in bringing ThingWorx and Vuforia to your university? Connect with us today to learn how here

  • Augmented Reality
  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • Electronics and High Tech
  • Retail and Consumer Products
  • Education
  • Digital Transformation

About the Author

Delaney McDevitt

Delaney McDevitt is the marketing copywriter for the PTC Academic Marketing team. In her role, she creates content that embodies the Academic team's mission to empower students and educators to succeed in the digital transformation era.

As a professional writer, she has experience in copywriting, editing, email marketing, content strategy, blogging, document design, and creative writing.