This document is a project overview or outline of the creation of a prototype or “wireframe” model of a training simulation intended for damage surveyors, who work as part of a coordinated effort by electric utilities to restore service to their customers as quickly as possible after a major damage event, such as a severe storm. Due to the limitations of time and resources (and the limited requirements of this course) this draft will include only a limited subset of a complete prototype’s features, which in turn would of course only be a subset of the actual simulation’s features.
While presented in an outline format, it is important to keep in mind that the various subtasks listed will not be carried out in a purely sequential manner. Instead, all the subprojects will be worked on more-or-less simultaneously, subject to task dependencies requiring one aspect to be completed before another can proceed.
In format, this document will begin with a list of resources, then a list of tasks and subtasks, and finally a summary timeline.
Each required resource will be followed by a notation of whether it is already
obtained, and a dollar cost if applicable.
Virtual Environment: Kitely, not yet obtained, $15/month for 3 months = $45 total.
OpenSimulator Documentation: available free of charge, notably at http://opensimulator.org/wiki/
3D Models of Equipment: Not yet obtained, available either as free downloads or for costs ranging up to $60 per model.
Modelling Tool: Sketchup (formerly Google Sketchup): not yet obtained. If necessary, $49 for a student license.
LMS: SCORM Cloud: already obtained.
Process steps will each be listed with a proposed timeframe or deadline. As mentioned above, a summary of the timeline will be placed at the end of this document.
Literature Review: Complete by 11/5/2017
This is the foundation of (proper) completion of all phases, in that the validity of the work depends on its connection to the principles and knowledge gained by the field. The author continues to plan a visit to Stony Brook University to take advantage of their extensive library of engineering journals and books.
Storyboard/Structure: Complete by 11/5/2017
This document will include detailed descriptions and diagrams of the virtual environment, along with what instructions the learner will receive and how they will be assessed. This task depends critically on the literature review’s substantive conclusion (the gathering of all required information) but not on its being written up fully.
3D Models Created: Complete by 11/12/2017
This includes not just equipment (e. g. poles and cables) but also roads,puddles, and all other environmental features required. This task doesn’t depend on any other subtask and can be completed as time allows—the specific equipment selected at this prototyping phase is not significant, as long as sufficient variety is present to indicate the system’s future capabilities.
OpenSimulator (Kitely) Island Obtained, Terrain Placed, Configuration: Complete by 11/12/2017
This task is likewise not dependent on any other component of the project, since during the prototype phase no scripting of the OpenSimulator environment (e. g. playing audio if certain actions are taken) is anticipated. Some environmental rules will be in place, such as “no flying” (since this is not meant to simulate drone or helicopter surveying). The eventual production version would be much more scripted.
Shape of island and its landmarks defined. Buildings, trees, etc. placed.
Note that the completed project would have buildings in the “blue sky” (undamaged) area, and damaged buildings in the “black sky” (storm damage) area. In the prototype, off-the-shelf undamaged buildings will be placed in both.
Two zones will be created, blue sky and black sky, with the same objects (trees, buildings, roads, etc.) but with visible damage in the black sky zone.
Assessment Developed: Complete by 11/19/2017
This area still is the least-developed. A major focus of the continuing literature search is to identify valid means to assess performance in a virtual reality environment in a manner that can practically be applied to hundreds of geographically-dispersed people rapidly, ideally in an automated manner.
Learner Documentation: Complete by 11/19/2017
Learners will receive instructions on how to enter, use, and get help with the simulation. This item represents producing prototypes of that documentation. Note that this prototype is not proposed to include extensive documentation for instructors/administrators.
Testing: Complete by 11/19/2017
The author anticipates having colleagues at an international utility who have experience as damage surveyors, as well as some who do not (but who are experienced technical trainers) provide feedback.
Refine work based on feedback: Complete by 12/3/2017
This phase will involve polishing and enhancing the prototype using the suggestions provided by the testers, as well as classmates, the instructor, and other insights as available.
Week of 10/23-10/29
Literature Review is a priority. Due to author travel, it will not be possible to visit a physical library during this period. Ideally at least 80% of the remainder of the search phase of the review will take place during this week. Writing will also progress. Second priority is the writing of the storyboard/structure. At this time, a Kitely island will be obtained and as time permits, an island built there. Work on 3D content for it will be basic if any can be performed and will involve only basic items, ideally freely-available off-the-shelf models.
Week of 10/30-11/5
Literature Review research must be completed this week. Storyboard/structure should be complete or 90% complete. The island should exist by the end of this week, along with its basic terrain including roads, paths, buildings, etc. Rules such as entry points and no-fly zones will be established. This is the period budgeted for obtaining/creating/editing 3D models of utility poles, transformers, cables, and other items of equipment. Also to be generated during this phase are “clothing” items of safety equipment, such as hard hats and safety goggles.
Week of 11/6-11/12
Any remaining writing on the Literature Review and storyboard/structure must be completed in this period. The Kitely island will be completely sculpted, landscaped, and ready for review at the end of this week. All items will be in place and locked down to prevent students from changing the environment. Student documentation will be in draft phase by the end of this week. A feedback survey will be written during this phase to facilitate testing the following week.
Week of 11/12-11/18
Testing by volunteers. Surveys collected and results analyzed. Assessment methods will exist at least as proposals. The prototype generated during this semester will not include any automated assessment methods, but will include a description of proposed methods if that method is found to be the proper one. In any case, a rubric for proper completion will be included for instructor assessments.
Remainder of Semester
The simulation and documentation will be refined based on feedback. If time permits, additional testing may be carried out.