Trimble Technology Lab for architecture and construction opens
The Colorado-based company’s state-of-the art devices and software are now available for teaching and research in a new Burchard Hall space.
With a shared focus on educating the workforce of tomorrow, Virginia Tech has partnered with a leading industrial-technology company to open a state-of-the-art Trimble Technology Lab at the university’s Blacksburg campus.
The transdisciplinary lab will bring industry-leading technology to students in architecture, building construction, and construction engineering. The lab is jointly led by the university’s School of Architecture and Myers-Lawson School of Construction.
“Through partnering with Trimble, we will be able to provide students with cutting-edge tools and training to ensure that they graduate at the technological forefront of their respective creative disciplines,” said Lu Liu, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design. “While our faculty are regular users of Trimble products already, the company’s support of our college will accelerate faculty research and creative engagement in industry through its robust support network and professional development opportunities.”
Located in Burchard Hall, the new lab comes after years of collaboration between Virginia Tech and Trimble in various areas of research.
Associate Professor Abiola Akanmu of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction recently published research on the utilization of mixed reality technologies for construction workers. Using the Trimble XR10 HoloLens hardhat, her research explores the potential for training and upskilling workers in mixed-reality environments to lead to safer and smarter work on construction sites.
“Over the years one of the challenges we have had is access to the state-of-the-art software and hardware that are used by industry practitioners,” Akanmu said. “Partnering with Trimble helps us prepare students to excel and innovate in the construction industry.”
Amy Northcutt is director of education and outreach at Trimble.
“Virginia Tech faculty have been conducting innovative research for several years using Trimble technologies so this is an excellent university for our newest Trimble Technology Lab,” Northcutt said. “Working with both the School of Architecture and the Myers-Lawson School of Construction will increase the number of students learning about Trimble technology and industry best practices and preparing to make a difference in the industries we serve.”
The lab includes a broad range of Trimble’s industry-leading geospatial and construction solutions such as the Trimble XR10 HoloLens hardhat, robotic total stations, 3D scanners, and GNSS systems. Advanced software solutions include Trimble RealWorks point cloud processing and analysis software, Trimble Business Center Infrastructure Construction edition, Tekla Structures, Tekla Structural Designer, Trimble Connect collaboration software, FieldLink Office, SysQue MEP design software, WinEst cost estimation software, Sefaira environmental design software, and the company’s popular 3D modeling software, SketchUp, among other products.
Edward Becker, associate professor in the School of Architecture who has been deeply involved in establishing the partnership and lab, said he looks forward to integrating Trimble products into his collaborative research and experiential learning projects with undergraduates.
Several years ago, Becker co-led a project in which faculty and students partnered with industry and government to build a train observation platform in Radford, Virginia.
“We were working with partners who could use Trimble tools on our behalf on that project because we didn’t have access to them at the time, and it really helped,” recalled Becker. “Now, we have access to all these tools ourselves, which is wonderful.”
Anthony Yusuf is a Myers Lawson School Ph.D. student advised by Akanmu. His dissertation research focuses on integrating cutting-edge technologies, such as Trimble’s, into teaching.
“Trimble’s products are not only very useful, but also very easy to use,” Yusuf said. “The traditional way to get students field experience has been to take them to job sites, but there can be barriers to that. This lab gives us an opportunity to provide virtual experiences, while also preparing students to drive innovation by using these products after they graduate.”