'First of its kind' virtual reality centre opens at Hull college - and it looks incredible

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 20 Dec 2017

A technical college in Hull city centre has launched a unique virtual reality facility that is thought to be first of its kind in a UK school.

Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) said the Green Port Virtual Reality (VR) Suite would be a major asset for small and medium-sized businesses across the region.

The school says the facility is unlike anything most major businesses have, and is thought to be the only such facility in the UK within a school that will be used routinely by local businesses.

Funded by a grant from the Green Port Growth Programme, it will enable businesses to innovate and train staff without having to put them directly into testing conditions or use significant financial resources.

Vice Principal Steve Willacy, Green Port Virtual Reality (VR) Suite at Ron Dearing UTC with business people

Businesses will be able to work alongside students at the school in Worship Street to develop digital skills which students use in projects as part of their education.

Ron Dearing UTC will host, maintain and market the facility as well as providing expertise and support to local businesses, which can use it for free in school hours, in its usage.

Martin Mancey, council portfolio holder for economic investment, regeneration and planning, said: “It was an amazing experience. Looking through the VR glasses made it feel I was actually inside of the wind turbines looking at the components.

“It’s a unique facility to get at the UTC. Facilities like this only exist in a small number of universities and major companies. To have this here, where small and medium-sized businesses are able to access it will give us a real edge, particularly when it comes to training.

Student using the virtual reality technology

“Having facilities like this, which has seen major investment from the likes of RB and Smith and Nephew, will only make it more the area more attractive to investors.

“They will see young people who are working regularly with cutting edge technology that they are able to use at a professional setting.”

Jonathan Garner, a year 12 student at the school, said: “I haven’t done anything like it before. It didn’t take too long to get the hang of it and I could clearly see how useful it could be.

“It would definitely help apprentices or people before starting jobs if they can use something like this to get an idea of what it is like working on a wind turbine before you were to start at Siemens for example.”

Councillor Martin Mancey and Vice Principal Steve Willacy, Green Port Virtual Reality (VR) Suite at the school

The centrepiece of the new suite is a 4K-resolution active wall which allows for an immersive VR experience for up to 30 people, projecting 3D versions of designs onto the screen.

Daniel Roche, director of MB Roche & Sons civil engineering firm, said: “As a civil engineering contractor I can immediately see the benefits. Instead of a load of 2D drawings it will make it a lot easier to visualise and show them to people.

“If you are working on the construction of a major project, you can get a much better idea of what components may need changing and the best way to do it.”

A student using the facility to look at components inside a wind turbine

Ron Dearing UTC principal Sarah Pashley said: “We’re excited to launch the Green Port VR Suite. This is a major asset for the region and local businesses and a fantastic opportunity to develop a new highly-skilled workforce.

Read more: Vivergo MD says 150 Hull biofuel plant jobs remain at risk due to 'government inaction'

“The support of our major partner Green Port Hull has enabled the creation of a facility which is the only one in the country hosted within an educational establishment that is available on an ongoing basis to local businesses.

“The Green Port VR Suite is also a powerful demonstration of our unique employer-driven education model and our commitment to bringing learning and business together, for mutual benefit.”

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