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August 25, 2017

Can’t wait to see inside? There’s an app for that

An augmented reality app created by Mortenson Construction is helping University of Washington students and faculty members “visit” a building now under construction. (Courtesy of Mortenson Construction)

A new school for computer science at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus won’t open its doors for classes for at least another 18 months. But students and faculty already have a sense of what it will feel like to sit in its classrooms and walk its halls.

When completed in January 2019, the CSE2 Building, the second part of a two-phase project, will provide much-needed space to serve one of the most popular majors at the university. In the meantime, getting a sneak peek of the building is as easy as downloading an augmented reality app created by Mortenson Construction, the general contractor for the project.

As technology takes an increasingly larger role in how construction projects are designed and built, Mortenson has established itself as a leader in finding ways to incorporate it into its projects. But the company’s interest in tapping technologies like virtual and augmented reality isn’t about the “cool” factor, according to Marc Kinsman, Mortenson’s director of immersive technology.

Meanwhile, at the University of Washington, at least one group has found an unexpected benefit of the app. The construction management department is using it as a way to educate – and even recruit – students for its program, according to Bill Bender, Construction Management department chair.

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