A high-tech drive to use virtual reality and other immersive technologies at Lakes College is proving a huge hit.
Led by Rachel Bass, who calls it her ‘dream job’, the 24-year-old is finding all kinds of ways to use the cutting-edge technology at the Lillyhall-based college and is hoping local businesses will see the potential too.
An early success for her role as Virtual Reality developer and technologist has been working with the college’s nurse cadets and health care students before lockdown.
It allowed them to learn about anatomy by putting on a VR headset and see a beating heart in front of them or watch as a pancreas released glucose.
Chloe Dixon, aspiring paramedic and second year nurse cadet student said: “The VR experience is one I will not forget in a hurry.
“It was awesome! It really put into practice the theory that we have learned from our teacher Lynsey. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to enhance their learning experience.”
Construction students have also used VR for their inductions into the college’s workshops.
Previously technicians would spend a long time setting up hazards around workshops for new students to identify, but Rachel created a 3D mock-up which students can wander around using their VR headsets, clicking on likely hazards for more information.
Rachel said: “VR has been really popular with the students and tutors. People might have had preconceptions that it was only for gaming or entertainment purposes, but now courses including construction and healthcare are seeing it as a good tool for training and development.”
Even though the college facilities have closed due to the lockdown – that hasn’t stopped Rachel from giving people an insight into the virtual reality world.
She’s already hosted online webinars internally at the college to show virtual reality and innovative technologies.
And she’s hosting an external event on Friday, June 19 for any businesses or education settings to attend.
Rachel is also reaching out to local businesses to offer the technology for use in a range of industries ranging from architects to nuclear firms.
“I don’t think there is much of this technology being used in West Cumbria – we’re certainly unique in having something like the Virtalis immersive experience active wall which allows multiple users,” she said.
Business applications for the technology could include creating a virtual version of hazardous environments in the nuclear industry to 3D modelling of developments for architects.
A number of firms have already worked with the college to explore the VR technology including Sellafield and Atkins.
Rachel studied computer animation and visual effects at the University of Northumbria after developing a passion for computing at Whitehaven School.
“I loved Disney when I was younger and must have worn-out VHS tapes watching them all the time.
“When we did an animation module as part of my GCSE ICT course something clicked and I realised that it was possible to see it as a career,” she explained.
“So working at the college has been a dream job – but I’d still like to make a film one day.”
Friday’s webinar takes place between 1pm and 3pm, and anyone interested should email RachelB@lcwc.ac.uk
Any businesses interested in a demonstration of Lakes College’s VR technologies, should also email Rachel.