College of Engineering, Computer Science & Construction Management

Chico State student excels in global VR construction course at Stanford

When Hannah Brownell transferred to Chico State, a professor told her about a special Architecture Engineering Construction, or AEC Global course at Stanford, open to students from around the world.

Brownell, "I ended up interviewing, out of 74 students 34 were selected, and I was one of the ones, and then I was put on my team with international students to create a building."

In order to do this, the students use virtual reality, or VR.

Brownell, "VR's really effective with design buildings, like design build buildings, because early on the construction managers are actually a part of the planning of the building. So having VR as an access of construction design, you can actually get in with the architect and discuss problems that construction management majors might see and the architects might not get yet, and understand with a construction aspect. So it's easy to actually do a connection and explain the differences and what needs to occur."

Hannah's team has been working this past semester on designing a building on the campus of the University of Puerto Rico, in San Juan, and group discussions can be difficult as team members live long distances from one another.

Brownell, "I have six members on my team including myself, with myself being at Chico State as a construction manger. My co-partner in CM is Yuni in China, then we have an architect Wesley at Universidad de Puerto Rico, and then our two structural MEP's Jack and Anthony are both at Stanford, and my MEP engineer Sia is also at Stanford."

If this isn't impressive enough, Hannah, who's nearing her degree in construction management, is also the only undergrad student on her team, but that hasn't stopped her from having a big impact.

Brownell, "It was funny cause, day one at Stanford I actually taught them how pole planning works, which I learned here, so it was a little experience for them to say, 'Okay, she has her feet, she can stand her own in this class.'"

With what she's gained in this, Hannah has also decided to give back, volunteering to go into construction management classes at Chico State, and share what she's learned with her fellow students, even letting them get a taste of VR, something she seems to really enjoy.

Brownell, "I love everyone's reactions the first time they put on a VR headset and their mouths open wide, and they're in shock at first of actually what you can do. And then just being able to pass on what I've learned to someone else."

Overall, Hannah seems to be making the most of this experience and proving that her future career path could go "virtually" anywhere she wants to take it.