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NIAR is home to the largest reconfigurable VR System

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research has partnered with Dassault Systemes and Mechdyne Corp. to custom design, build and install the largest reconfigurable Flex immersive visualization system ever deployed by Mechdyne.

The system, referred to as the Cave, is currently housed at NIAR where engineering and manufacturing users are familiarizing themselves with it, incorporating software capabilities and testing use cases and operational requirements. It will be installed in the 3DExperience Center in the Wichita State's new Experiential Engineering building when it opens this fall.

The three organizations - comprising the university's Innovation Project Team - worked together for over a year to discuss strategies built around the university's strategic plan and to develop the goal of transforming manufacturing across multiple industries such as aerospace and defense, life sciences and industrial equipment through innovative applications of technology.

Earlier this month, the team received the 2016 Integration Award for the Best Higher Education Project from Commercial Integrator during an awards ceremony at InfoComm, the largest professional audiovisual trade show in North America.

Funding for the Cave was made possible by a 2015 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, aimed at creating new manufacturing jobs. The team will use the system's virtual reality capabilities to:

  • Strengthen and diversify the south Kansas advanced manufacturing supply chain.
  • Increase the quality and scope of products across industries, such as aerospace and defense technologies.
  • Increase the competitiveness and sustainability of aerospace and defense-related business.

"Our primary vision is to transform manufacturing across multiple industries - aerospace and defense, life sciences and industrial equipment - through innovative technology," says Jeff Fisher, WSU's virtual reality lab manager. "We wanted to work with Mechdyne because of their reputation for approaching projects differently, from design through integration, and because they do difficult projects exceptionally well."

"I've worked with Mechdyne since we integrated the Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL) at Lockheed Martin," says Dassault's Jeff Smith. "Mechdyne has a lot of experience in enabling ways to virtually create before physically creating to improve products and associated processes. Working together with WSU seemed like a natural choice."

Mechdyne has been collaborating with Dassault and WSU since early 2014 to fully develop the vision for the virtual reality system. Ultimately, the university has a goal to enhance the concept and design process; user experience testing; virtual prototyping, facilities planning, and certification; and significantly shorten the product development and timelines for various industries.

From these goals, Mechdyne designed the massive Flex system. The fixed front wall measures nearly 19 feet, towering 10 feet high, with each hinged side wall stretching an additional 10 feet. The 12 LED projectors provide crisp 4K resolution on the front wall and the floor, with HD x HD resolution for the walls.

"The reconfigurable nature of the Flex allows it to become a flat wall display for data review, an angled theater for collaboration or an immersion room," says Terry Mercer, Mechdyne solutions engineer, who helped conceptualize the Flex's design. "We are very excited to see what kind of work WSU will do with this cutting-edge technology, which will put them at the forefront of their field."

"By using the Flex system, we will create complete 'virtual twins' of products and processes before we make physical prototypes or investments," says Fisher. "The virtual twin within the immersive environment will create deep collaboration, insight and understanding through product development lifecycles, and we will ensure products are right the first time."

About National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University
The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University is regarded as one of the most capable university-based aviation research centers in the United States. NIAR provides research, design, testing, certification, and training to the aviation manufacturing industry, government agencies, educational entities and other clients. NIAR's mission is to conduct research, transfer technology, and enhance education for the purpose of advancing the nation's aviation industry, and to assist non-aviation industries that may benefit from aviation-related technologies. For more information, visit

Wichita State University, a public state university in the Kansas Board of Regents system, is a growing leader in innovation, creativity and collaborative learning. The mission of Wichita State University is to be an essential educational, cultural and economic driver for Kansas and the greater public good.

About Dassault Systemes
Dassault Systemes, the 3DExperience Co., provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. Its world-leading solutions transform the way products are designed, produced, and supported. Dassault Systemes' collaborative solutions foster social innovation, expanding possibilities for the virtual world to improve the real world. The group brings value to over 210,000 customers of all sizes, in all industries, in more than 140 countries. For more information, visit

About Mechdyne
Mechdyne Corp. is a broad-based technology partner specializing in audiovisual and information technologies (AV/IT), visualization and software solutions, immersive virtual reality technologies, and technical support services. We address complex projects where an in-depth understanding of user requirements leads to the development of customized solutions involving elements of display, graphics computing, software, and professional services. Headquartered in Marshalltown, Iowa, Mechdyne serves a global client base that includes leading government laboratories, university and research centers, energy, aerospace, manufacturing, and medical organizations, as well as any other user of advanced technology. For more information, visit


Contact: Tracee Friess, director of communication, research and technology transfer, 316-978-5597 or

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