Demand for a highly skilled workforce in the field of additive manufacturing (AM) is growing but is underserved due to limited academic course offerings and high barriers for incorporating industrial AM systems into education. Virtual reality (VR) is proposed as a medium to help teach introductory concepts of AM to a broader audience in an interactive, scalable manner. Before implementing VR as a standard tool to teach the concepts of AM, we must evaluate the effectiveness of this medium for the subject. Our research aims to answer the question: can VR be used to teach introductory concepts of additive manufacturing in a way that is as effective as teaching the same concepts in a physical setting? The research looks at the learning differences between two groups: (1) students exposed to an interactive AM lesson in a traditional physical setting and (2) students exposed to the same lesson within a virtual environment. The study assesses participants’ AM knowledge through pre-/post-AM lesson evaluation. AM conceptual knowledge gained and changes in self-efficacy are evaluated to make an argument for the effectiveness of VR as an AM learning tool.

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