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Proving the value of virtual learning

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Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre | Page 4

The Nuclear AMRC is working with EDF Energy and simulation system specialist GSE Systems to evaluate virtual training tools for the nuclear industry.

The one-year project is funded by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board). It will assess whether a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality and other advanced 3D simulation techniques can provide real value in training people to operate and maintain new and existing nuclear plants.

The team will evaluate a range of commercially available delivery technologies, including VR walls such as the Virtalis ActiveCube and ActiveWall at the Nuclear AMRC; head-mounted displays such as the Oculus Rift, originally developed for games; mobile and wearable devices including iPads, Android tablets and Google Glass; as well as specialised simulation systems from GSE.

“The project is aimed at demonstrating the value of using these innovative technologies to enhance learning and understanding in a nuclear environment,” says Rab Scott, Nuclear AMRC head of visualisation. “It’s about developing the skills base. We need a massive influx of young people into the industry, and youngsters are au fait with these technologies because they’ve grown up with them.”

Studies in other sectors have shown that virtual learning can help people remember and understand complex information. These technologies have not been widely used by the UK civil nuclear industry, however – largely because they did not exist when the UK was last building new reactors, Scott notes.

“Clearly, we need enhanced training models to attract and retain a new nuclear work force, “ says Simon Nicholson, vice president of European sales at GSE. “And virtual learning has been proven to increase comprehension and retention and produce a higher level of competency than traditional training methods.”

The project will focus on real learning situations at EDF Energy, and refine ways to translate current and new teaching scenarios to the virtual environment. GSE will lead the development of simulations based on content from EDF Energy, with the Nuclear AMRC demonstrating and testing the new tools.

The study will also seek to demonstrate that investment in digital assets can provide lasting value. “Often companies create these virtual models for construction, then don’t use them again – but you can reuse them for training throughout the whole life cycle of the facility,” says Scott.

Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre
| Page 4
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