Engineering Education: Intelligent Agents Approach

This project is an effort of George Mason University researchers working with NASA to develop enhanced education and training environments of future aerospace workforce. GMU is a member Hierarchical Learning Network, a consortium of universities cooperating with NASA Langley Research Center.

The research has two major interrelated components. The first component is the development of a novel methodology for building intelligent tutoring systems utilizing state-of-the-art computer science, including the technology of intelligent agents. The second component is actually building a tutoring system based on the developed methodology to demonstrate its feasibility. The demonstration will be done in the area of personal air vehicles.

During the past six months, intensive research effort has already produced significant results demonstrating the feasibility of the major research assumptions and of the usefulness of the methodology being developed. First, state-of-the-art building tutoring and intelligent systems have been analyzed and an initial methodology for building educational tools has been developed. This methodology involves the integration of an ontology with a decision rules-based knowledge base within an environment developed using Macromedia Flash and connected with various graphics files, video files, etc. The developed methodology is being used for the rapid prototyping of an intelligent tutoring system.

For this system, state-of-the-art technology in the area of personal air vehicles has been analyzed with the help of NASA experts, including Dr. Mark More, the leading researcher and expert in this area. Knowledge acquisition is continuing using concept maps. The acquired knowledge is being structured into an ontology using the ontology editor Protégé, which is a platform-independent system written in Java. Assessment and refinement of the knowledge base is conducted in cooperation with Dr. Mark Moore of NASA.

Subsequently, a Macromedia environment has been used to integrate various pieces of the tutorial system. A Macromedia JRun web application server is being used to communicate with Protégé through the Java environment and to provide an interactive interface between the user and the knowledge base. The graphical user interface is being developed using Macromedia Flash, a state-of-the-art authoring tool, and integrated with Macromedia JRun. Currently, the shell is being integrated with the ontology and with other parts of the system. A working demo of the system has already been developed and was presented to the NASA and Old Dominion University engineering experts in February, 2003.



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Last updated: May 29, 2003