Boost for business as Ron Dearing UTC launches unique virtual reality facility
Hull’s employer-led school has launched a unique virtual reality facility that will 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.
Ron Dearing UTC will host, maintain and market the facility as well as providing expertise and support to local businesses in its usage.
Ron Dearing UTC Vice Principal Steve Willacy, second left, demonstrates the Green Port VR Suite to, from left, Daniel Roche, of M.B. Roche & Sons, Jonny Love and Janie Whitelock of Pure Renewables, and Tony Schultz and Dominic Rumble of Pearlgreen Engineering.
Ron Dearing UTC 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.”
Ron Dearing UTC Vice Principal Steve Willacy, right, and Cllr Martin Mancey, representing Green Port Hull, try out the 4K-resolution active wall within the Green Port VR Suite which allows for a fully immersive virtual reality experience for up to 30 people.
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.
Among many benefits for local businesses, the VR suite and technology will:
- Enable VR-ready 3D models and simulations to be created seamlessly using files from a wide range of industry-standard and sector-specific computer-aided design (CAD) packages.
- Provide seamless CAD integration to help businesses improve their design processes.
- Deliver cost reduction by supporting concept reviews and optimisation of part designs before tooling and production of physical prototypes.
- Provide a superb facility for product presentations and pitches.
The VR facility was launched to local businesses at the annual Green Port Hull networking event, held in the UTC’s Smith & Nephew Conference Centre.
The event brought together dozens of companies within the renewables industry and its supply chain, as well as related sectors, and offered delegates the chance to experience and explore the exciting opportunities VR offers to their businesses.
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.”
Councillor Martin Mancey, Portfolio Holder for Economic Investment, Regeneration and Planning for Hull City Council – one of Green Port Hull’s key partners – said: “The Green Port Virtual Reality Suite adds a new dimension to our city’s innovation and digital technology offering and it will provide a useful tool for the business community.”
Ron Dearing UTC student Katie Lister, 14, tries out the state-of-the-art virtual reality technology.
Ron Dearing UTC opened in September and has been established to develop a new pipeline of tech-savvy and work-ready young people. The new school offers a unique curriculum combining academic excellence in the core subjects of English, maths and sciences with the opportunity to specialise in digital technology and/or mechatronics – a combination of computing and engineering.
Ron Dearing UTC’s Founding Partners are the University of Hull and some of the region’s leading employers – KCOM, RB, Siemens Gamesa, Smith & Nephew and Spencer Group. It is also supported by Hull City Council and a host of other business partners.
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.
The Green Port VR Suite will be made available, under supervision, predominantly during evenings and at weekends, as well as during the school day, via a booking system. Businesses that want to find out more about the facility or make use of it should contact Steve Willacy on 01482 222299 or on email here.