zaterdag 28 mei 2016

A centrifugal pump for vocational education in Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality in Vocational Education

At our school for vocational education, STC (Shipping and Transport College) in Brielle in the Netherlands, i teach mathematics and electrical engineering.

At the STC they have two courses, Maintenance and Process College. The courses train for jobs in the process industry like we have in the Dutch Rotterdam Europoort and Botlek area.

A lot of students that start at our facility have little affinity for technology. As part of their training, they need to learn about pumps. Currently they learn from paper and via pictures how a pump is disassembled and assembled.

I wondered whether we could better prepare them for handling the physical pumps later on in their course by using Virtual Reality (VR). VR uses a Head Mounted Display (HMD), picture someone with ski goggles or watch this video, to emerge you into a virtual environment, and triggers more senses than reading a leaflet does. You can visit unreachable places through virtual worlds and create unique experiences. Moreover, VR, with the advent of cheap solutions like Google Cardboard, has become accessible to anyone with a smartphone. With more expensive VR sets, you can create impressive experiences.

The most important application of VR at this time is amusement! This gave me a boost to integrate it further into education. 

I envisioned a VR application that would put you on an oil rig to handle a centrifugal pump. We asked a company, , to build this environment for us. Students can "assemble" and "disassemble" the pump using a HTC Vive VR HMD.


Besides handling the pump, the VR experience also trains our Dutch students the proper English words for pump parts. When learning from paper, i think lots of students learn the English words so they can pass the exam, but forget what they learned soon after. 

Within the VR environment we place every part on a small high table, and we have a table with signs with the English name of parts. If they put a name with a part, we both have a sound and green (good) or red (wrong) lamp to indicate how they did.

A next step is to further detail the pump so students can use proper tools to handle nuts, bolts and sealing rings.

Do you also need to train your students in handling pumps, or do you have other questions, please reply to this blog and i will get back to you. I'm especially interested in people wanting to co-finance development of the environment.

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