Abstract—Tuskegee University is developing a wearable augmented reality preservation training application to provide remote historic window restoration training. COVID-19 changed how we provide instruction, which has opened new opportunities to use remote learning modalities to deliver educational content. This research aims to improve the ability of Tuskegee University to teach students and community residents how to restore their historic wood windows, which will assist in preserving the historic assets around Tuskegee University’s campus and in the surrounding community. Experienced tradespeople capable of repairing and restoring historic wood windows are retiring from the workforce, creating a shortage in the traditional trades industry. This research will provide new avenues for a retired tradesperson to share their knowledge. This concept paper discusses the work we are doing and the method of evaluating the success of the research.
Index Terms—augmented reality, historic preservation learning to do by doing, traditional trades training, Tuskegee University
Tuskegee University is researching how to create a Wearable Augmented Reality Preservation Training Application (WARPTA). COVID-19 protocols changed the way we teach our students and have forced educators to question all established norms. Even established courses that historically required students to receive instruction through hands-on training pivoted to a virtual environment, which revealed significant opportunities for learning models. In 2018, the Tuskegee University Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science (TSACS) began offering historic window restoration workshops to teach our students and community residents how to restore historic wood windows. Simultaneously, TSACS began developing WARPTA to allow students to receive remote instruction in real-time as they complete traditional trades projects, particularly history window restoration. We stopped conducting the workshops in 2020 when our campus was closed due to COVID. As the university transitions students and faculty back onto campus, we are more committed to completing this work, given the new efficacy around remote learning.
The primary goal of this research is to develop an augmented reality-based, remote learning module, to teach students about the traditional trades. The secondary goal is to use the technology to teach students how to preserve the buildings on Tuskegee University’s campus and in the community. Tuskegee is the only university campus in the United States (US) designated as a national historic landmark. The campus construction began in 1881 under the leadership of Dr. Booker T. Washington, using his learning to do by doing educational model. Through our curriculum, faculty combined theory and practice to guide students in constructing more than 40 buildings from 1881 to 1915. Our curriculum taught students how to be self-reliant and equipped them to return to their communities and assist in rebuilding them. WARPTA research is a contemporary elaboration on our educational legacy.
Need For This Study
Historic preservation restoration work demands a labor force of trained workers, including tradespersons like carpenters, painters, window restorers, welders, plasterers, and other construction workers who understand how to preserve our historic structures. The ability to repair, maintain, and preserve historic properties is vital to maintaining the historical culture of communities around the nation. Despite the demand, there continues to be a short supply of trained craftspersons. The training of craftspeople to serve the historic preservation industry creates job opportunities in communities around the county where there are high underemployment rates. Increasing employment improves the economy locally and nationally.
Preservationists began focusing on this issue in 1968 with the publication of the Whitehill Report on Professional and Public Education for Historic Preservation, and the National Park Service focused its efforts on improving this worsening trend in its 1997 publication “Preservation Trades and Crafts: Working in Preservation and Fostering the Trades.” Unfortunately, the number of skilled tradespersons continues to dwindle as specialists age out of the industry. This project provides a public benefit by using technology that connects younger populations to preservation trades. Augmented reality attracts younger populations and bridges the divide between disciplines. This research also gives a second life to preservation specialists who have aged out of practice but want to pass their knowledge to younger generations.
In 2018, Tuskegee University received a grant from the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation and the J.M. Kaplan fund to conduct window restoration workshops on campus. At the same time, we also received funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to restore one of our trades buildings, Willcox Building E. Through the Trust, the Department of Architecture connected with the Hands On Preservation Experience (HOPE) crew, which assisted us with finding the window specialist who taught the workshops. Following the workshops, Dr. Kwesi Daniels realized there was an opportunity to train many students if Tuskegee could develop a virtual training module. Dr. Daniels and Dr. Jayfus Doswell immediately began working on the training module to develop an instructional workflow to teach trainees the process of historic window restoration.
Tuskegee’s campus is an optimal site for this research. The campus is the first HBCU designated as a Registered National Historic Landmark and is the only HBCU chosen as a National Historic Site. Robert R. Taylor, the first professionally trained African-American architect in the United States, designed many of its buildings. Taylor is by far the most influential African American architectural figure of the early twentieth century. As the head of Tuskegee’s architecture program, he trained legions of students who became the lead architects of several other HBCU campuses. Much of the African American architectural tradition is indebted to Taylor and Tuskegee.
The research paper seeks to demonstrate how augmented reality is a viable remote learning tool to train students and residents in Tuskegee, Al, to address their historic buildings. The objective is:
- To determine how augmented reality can be used as a learning tool to teach the traditional trades.
- To determine the efficacy of teaching traditional trades through wearable headsets equipped with augmented reality training software.
- To assess how well Tuskegee University students Tuskegee and residents can be taught historic wood window preservation remotely.
Can a wearable augmented reality-equipped headset be used as a remote training device for the traditional preservation trades?
Can we increase the number of people who are skilled at historic window restoration through the use of augmented reality?
This study intends to monitor participants who are training through face-to-face learning alongside the participants learning via the wearable augmented reality headset to determine how well the training modules work. The study will sample six participants, three will be in the control group, and three will be in the subject group. We will collect primary data and analyze it to determine the viability of this technology for preserving historic windows. The small population size is due to the small number of students who can be educated one time by one instructor.
The remaining process to complete this project involves soliciting funding to finalize the software for the augmented reality glasses and testing the workflow with students. We need to evaluate how well the current module assists trainees with restoring windows using remote instruction. Two groups of students will be evaluated, a control group who will only receive face-to-face instruction and the research group who will receive the instruction remotely. We intend to complete this research by December 2021.
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- Kenneth L. Wilson, MC USA, Jayfus T. Doswell, PhD, Olatokunbo S. Fashola, PhD, Wayne Debeatham, MD, Nii Darko, DO, Travelyan M. Walker, MC USN, Omar K. Danner, MD, Leslie R. Matthews, MD, William L. Weaver, MC USA (Ret.), Using Augmented Reality as a Clinical Support Tool to Assist Combat Medics in the Treatment of Tension Pneumothoraces, Military Medicine, Volume 178, Issue 9, September 2013, Pages 981–985, Available: https://doi.org/10.7205/MILMED-D-13-00074
Dr.Kwesi A. Daniels earned a Bachelor of Architecture, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL, 2002; Masters of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL, 2003; Master of Science, Sustainability Management, Columbia University, NY, 2013; Doctor of Philosophy, Temple University, PA, 2020.
He is the Head of the Architecture Department at Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL. His professional experience ranges across various disciplines, including historic preservation, architecture, sustainability management, and urban geography. Over his twenty-year career he has worked for architecture firms and government agencies on public and private sector building projects around the country.
Daniels is the at-large director for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), a co-chair of the educate platform for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), and as the 3rd Congressional District Representative for the Alabama Black Heritage Council.
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