Students get a glimpse into the future with virtual reality competition

Games design students from Northampton College have created a virtual reality teaching tool to help future construction workers better understand the importance of health and safety on building sites.

The project, supported by Digital Northampton and AR Media, saw students devise a way for aspiring builders, plumbers, plasterers and carpenters to visualise the potential dangers in a host of different scenarios on a typical building site, all from the comfort of their own classroom.

The programme will now be used by tutors to teach health and safety and highlight the importance of following guidelines to avoid potential accidents in the workplace.

The competition was won by Level 3 Games Design student Julia Olchawa, who said: “It was very exciting to win. It’s been quite a stressful time because we have had so many projects going on but I’m really happy and very proud of myself.

“It’s been a good effort from everyone, a lot of the assets we did together as a class so it was important to try to get it all to mesh together and it’s ended up working really nicely.”

Julia received a state-of-the-art Oculus Rift virtual reality headset as her prize.

Wayne Roberts of AR Media, one of the judges for the competition, said: “It was nice to see so many students, who put so much hard work into this competition in such a short time. They produced high quality work. What the students have achieved is extremely impressive. It was a very tough decision to pick a winner.

“We’re living in an ever-evolving world and digital skills are becoming increasingly essential for young people. I have kids of my own and they are far more advanced than I am on certain things. Schools and colleges need to be encouraging digital development – this generation are going to be leading the way in years to come.”

The teaching aid adds to the technology available to students in the college’s new Advanced Construction Engineering Centre at Booth Lane, a bespoke building training the next generation of construction workers.

Richard Beards of Digital Northampton said: “We do lots of work towards creating career pathways for students from schools and colleges to show them the opportunities in the digital and tech industry in Northamptonshire. It inspires us to know there are talented young people here who can help the county flourish.

“We want to put Northamptonshire on the map for digital innovation and the quality produced by Northampton College students in this competition has helped to motivate us even more in that aim. All the virtual workshops we saw were excellent.”


For more details on games design and construction courses available at Northampton College, visit www.northamptoncollege.ac.uk/courses