Students in Construction Systems Management use Flir One thermal imaging cameras with their iPads to detect heat emissions from their bodies and other activities in the program. Credit: Courtesy of Jeffery Suchy 

Jeffery Suchy plugs in a small, rectangular double-lensed camera into the charging port of his iPad to immediately see the heat emissions in his classroom displayed like a colorful X-ray.

Suchy, a lecturer of construction systems management, moves the iPad around the classroom to show the heat radiating off student’s bodies and demonstrate heat conductivity by using the Flir One Thermal Cameras provided through the Digital Flagship program.

“[The camera] will show you basically the current inside the wire that shows you the heat so we’re able to demonstrate — they know that we can talk about it and do calculations on it, but then you can see it,” Suchy said. 

Since its creation in 2017, Digital Flagship has been promoting the development of digital skills on Ohio State campuses by providing students with school-issued iPads that faculty, such as Suchy, have implemented in their curriculum, Cory Tressler, director of learning programs in the Office of Academic Affairs, said.

“[Digital Flagship] truly was about access for students, ensuring that all students have equal access to the software we provide, Carmen or hardware like an iPad or other technology,” Tressler said. 

Suchy said the Department of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences bought seven thermal-imaging cameras through its own funding for the program. 

“In both cases it allows them to ‘see’ what otherwise may not be detected. It is a way of applying theory in a hands-on learning environment,” Suchy said in an email. 

The heat-detecting camera plugs into the charging port on the bottom of the iPad and couples with an app to detect and produce heat-sensitive images, Suchy said. 

Once the app is downloaded, students can point the external camera and see the differences in temperatures in objects or structures. The camera measures up to 120 degrees Celsius — 248 degrees Fahrenheit — which enables students a wide range of opportunities to see different heat indexes, according to the Flir One website. 

“The scale of temperatures it will show you — the lower gradient is blue for cold and the higher gradient is more of an orange to red to white color the hotter it gets,” John Hyre, a second-year in construction systems management, said. 

Suchy said students have experimented with the camera to see the heat released from mixing concrete together.

“When you mix water with cement, it creates a chemical reaction called hydration,” Suchy said. “You can actually see it with the imager.”

Hyre said the camera is a tool to be used in the real world.

“I need to see what’s going on, and I think that’s the only way of seeing such gradual increments of temperature change in something that regularly you couldn’t view, you couldn’t see,” he said. 

The app also has the capability to take a time-lapse to see how heat emissions change over time, Suchy said. 

Suchy said students are learning skills that can transfer to the professional realm because thermal imaging cameras and iPads are being used throughout the construction industry today.