Ron Dearing UTC launches virtual reality facility

Ron Dearing UTC launches virtual reality facility

Hull’s employer-led school has launched a unique virtual reality facility that hopes to give businesses across the region a major digital edge.

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

The VR Suite has been funded by a grant from the Green Port Growth Programme and is thought to be the only such facility in the UK within a school that will be used routinely by local businesses.

It will enable businesses to drive innovation and productivity and allow them to work with Ron Dearing UTC students to help develop their digital skills using cutting-edge VR technologies.

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.  

“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.”

Virtual reality applications have seen rapid growth, especially in engineering and manufacturing industries, as VR supports highly-efficient, end-to-end production processes.

VR delivers an easy-to-understand global picture of production operations and produces 3D data that can be used in many ways, including design development and training.

Ron Dearing UTC Vice Principal Steve Willacy said: “Facilities such as this are rare and typically only available in large companies, such as Siemens and Land Rover, and within major universities.

“It’s fantastic that we have this state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Hull as it enhances further the region’s ever-growing reputation for digital innovation and invention.

“The Green Port VR Suite will provide business opportunities otherwise out of the reach of small and medium-sized businesses as well as enabling students to use the technologies to produce virtual reality prototypes as part of their work on projects set by our employer partners.

“Virtual reality and augmented reality are fast-growing technologies that are in increasing demand in industry.”

The VR suite features a combination of fixed installations and portable VR devices, and related software, to ensure flexibility and maximise collaboration with industry.

The suite’s centrepiece is a 4K-resolution active wall which allows for a fully immersive VR experience for up to 30 people.

Tim Rix, chairman of the Green Port Growth Programme, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the new Green Port Virtual Reality Suite at Ron Dearing UTC, which will give companies in our region the chance to experience and explore the opportunities VR can bring to their business.

“VR systems can improve design processes, support procedures and training and create virtual prototypes to be tried and tested before implementation.

“Not only will it bring benefits to our ever-growing renewable energy sector here in the Humber, but the Green Port VR Suite will support innovation in businesses spanning a wide variety of markets. We’re looking forward to seeing the impact it will have.”

With an investment totalling £25.7m, the Green Port Growth Programme has been delivering support for employment and skills in Hull and the East Riding since 2012.

Supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, it is designed to provide continual support to help local businesses recognise and embrace potential opportunities in the renewables sector.