Virtual reality is providing a useful tool to train young construction learners. Pembrokeshire College hosted a visit from pupils at Ysgol Dyffryn Taf who had the unusual opportunity to experience construction from a virtual perspective.
Thanks to an innovative, and technologically driven project, Convert, funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Level 2 pupils studying the WJEC’s Construction, and the Built Environment course was invited to experience the industry-designed software for themselves.
CONVERT is led by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Construction Wales Innovation Centre. It enables learners from secondary school, further and higher education to access a training programme that helps to improve learner engagement and preparedness for joining the sector.
During the event, they experienced several virtual learning resources. These included:
- The Rotorpilot – a programme designed to give learners a virtual drone piloting experience whilst surveying a building site or heritage building.
- Wood-Ed – a wood machining simulator using Augmented Reality that enables learners to (safely) use a table saw, band saw, planer, and spindle moulder.
- The Working at Height/Scaffolding programme helps the user to get a sense of the dangers of working in the scaffolding industry.
- The Virtual Built Environment Element Explorer (VBEEE) software takes the learner through the stages of construction a building whilst considering a design brief that appraises sustainability, cost, durability, and comfort issues.
The school is linked to Alun Griffiths Civil Engineering and Construction whose Public Liaison Officer, Angharad Rosser gave an insightful presentation on how they use drones in their work. She cited the live-work they are undertaking on the A40 road improvement project which connects the school and college.
Angharad added: “It is important to our A40 improvements team that we can provide the opportunity for students to understand how science, technology, engineering and mathematics play a part in the designing and constructing the infrastructure that we all use on a daily basis. I was very pleased to be able to provide input on how technology is playing a part in our work on the project and hope that it provided a real-world context for their current studies”.
The school’s visit to Pembrokeshire College was one of the first opportunities for pupils to experience a unique hands-on learning project outside their classroom learning environment since the pandemic.
Dominic La Trobe, the school’s construction teacher was keen to ensure his pupils got an opportunity to trial the CONVERT equipment before leaving school later in the year.
”Students enjoyed the CONVERT workshop immensely. The VR simulations provided an invaluable insight into areas and professions within the construction industry. The sessions allowed students to safely experience otherwise high-risk activities such as working at height and using dangerous machinery. Activities which ordinarily would be completely beyond classroom provision”, said Dominic.
Pembrokeshire College has benefited from loaning the equipment for the past few weeks. Arwyn Williams, Head of Faculty for Engineering, Computing, Construction and Higher Education said: “Both learners and teachers at the College greatly enjoyed the experience of using the futuristic technology as well as the learning that the interactive equipment and the virtual environment brought. The learners especially benefited from being able to use the virtual wood machining simulator bench without the inherent danger of using the equipment in person.”
“The CONVERT project is providing a wide range of opportunities for learners to get a taste of how digital technology is being used in construction. As we look forward to the introduction of new digital skills qualifications this autumn being involved in this project is very timely”, said Julie Evans, project manager.
CONVERT learning resources are available to loan from CWIC free of charge. Contact Julie on 01792 481273 / firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how your learners can benefit.