New campus to feature virtual reality science lab
A $186,743 grant has been awarded to Palm Beach State College from the Quantum Foundation to establish the first collegiate virtual medical lab in Florida using zSpace® 3D technology.
The Virtual Anatomy Laboratory or “VAL” will be located on Palm Beach State’s Loxahatchee Groves campus, which has an initial focus on health sciences and technology. The first building on the new campus is slated to open in spring with “VAL” ready for enrollment in the summer term.
Overseeing this project, Dr. Jacqueline Rogers, dean of health sciences & public safety, envisions the technology in the lab will replace the traditional anatomy “wet” laboratory experience with computer-simulated experiences using zSpace 3D technology. Rogers also serves as campus director for the launch of the Loxahatchee Groves campus.
The laboratory will feature 12 zSpace computers to be installed in the traditional computer classroom and will be used by students taking the anatomy and physiology co-requisite laboratory courses which are prerequisites to health sciences programs.
zSpace is a three-dimensional, virtual reality platform where students can explore over 13,000 anatomical objects by systems and regions and be able to manipulate organs or search and view specific systems of the whole body. The science faculty can use the 3D images as instructional tools for the anatomy and physiology course that will be reinforced in the lab using the zSpace computers.
In addition to the 3D computers, the lab will have two 3D printers that will further support the teaching concepts.
According to Rogers, students will be able to create anatomic models depicting structural abnormalities, which will enable students to directly visualize defects and anomalies and their impact on organ function.
“It is vital for PBSC students to be workforce ready when they graduate from our programs,” said Dr. Maria Vallejo, vice president for growth and expansion and provost of the Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves campuses. “This technology will help our students become proficient in the use of high-tech equipment used in today’s healthcare industry. It will also help our science program run more efficiently, as 3D labs eliminate biohazard waste, timely lab set-up and take-down for dissection and the need for formalin preservatives.”
As part of a pilot project for the Virtual Anatomy Laboratory, science faculty members on the Lake Worth campus are beta testing the zSpace computer in tandem with the current anatomy and physiology lab to better understand its technology and to develop future curriculums. The results of the pilot project will be provided to Rogers as part of the data collected to implement “VAL” at the Loxahatchee Groves campus.