Virtual or augmented reality systems provide immersive and realistic experiences for students studying aircraft engineering and other challenging subjects.
At the Institute of Vocational Education – part of the Vocational Training Council – a team uses augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) systems to teach aircraft engineering and building maintenance.
“If we want STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education to be popular, it is important to let students have a more hands-on experience,” says Dr Eric Liu Sai-lok, the Vocational Training Council’s academic director of engineering.
The systems simulate workplace environments, putting students in situations they might encounter in real life – performing tasks like identifying safety hazards and conducting machine inspections in virtual plant rooms and aircraft hangars.
“We can produce simulations of unusual or dangerous cases, that may be [hard to replicate outside of the VR environment], and students can learn how to react,” Dr Liu continued. He added that it is difficult for trainers to arrange damaged equipment for students to practise on, so the VR and AR technologies plug this gap without compromising safety.
Jack Zeng Enze, a Year Two student in aircraft maintenance engineering, said that the simulations give him practical hands-on experience instead of simply studying and memorising details on paper.
The team hopes to apply the technologies in other courses, such as tourism, health care and arboriculture – project officer Kelvin To King-ting relates that students could practise how to fell trees in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
Dr Liu concludes, “If you only deliver theory, it is difficult to understand. Youngsters like more visualisation and a more interactive way of learning.”
Adapted with permission from the South China Morning Post