New £750,000 virtual and augmented reality suite is ready to launch

Telford College will be officially opening its new £750,000 virtual and augmented reality suite on December 13.

Students have been given a sneak preview of some of the new virtual and augmented reality equipment at Telford College
Students have been given a sneak preview of some of the new virtual and augmented reality equipment at Telford College

The top floor of the college’s W block at its Haybridge campus is taking technology-led learning to a new dimension with an array of cutting-edge equipment.

More than half a million pounds of funding from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership has helped to create the new suite, which will help train students and workers in the innovative digital and technical skills vital to the region’s economy.

It has been kitted out with the latest immersive virtual and augmented reality teaching aids and software packages, including a virtual reality ‘cave’ which can transport you into a learning or working environment anywhere in the world, recreating any climate, or environment.

The suite also includes interactive mirrors, and ‘smart glasses’, virtual reality and motion simulators and a hydroscopic 3D presentation screen.

Graham Guest, principal and chief executive of the college, said: “We’re all really excited about the opportunities which this new suite will open up for students, as well as for our partners and local businesses.

“This is the future of learning – education has to adapt to young people’s modern-day lifestyles, which means we should no longer put all the emphasis on traditional classroom-style tuition.

“What we have created here at Telford College is one of the most exciting, sophisticated and interactive learning experiences in the region, adding to our university-standard facilities.”

The new suite is part of a range of investments in the Haybridge campus since the merger of Telford College of Arts and Technology, and New College Telford, last year.

Invited guests will try out the new facilities at the official launch on 13 December, and the public get their first chance to immerse themselves in the virtual and augmented reality world at the college’s next open event on 23 January. For more details, see www.defineyourfuture.co.uk.

Mr Guest said: “Combining the knowledge, skills and facilities on our campus is a perfect time to reflect on our curriculum, and the introduction of virtual and augmented reality technology is a key ingredient in this.

“We want to be at the forefront of education, which is why we are bringing in virtual reality and new technologies to inspire students. It will revolutionise ways of teaching and learning.”

Telford College has worked closely on the project with local technology company Virtual Reality Simulation Systems, which specialises in augmented reality, virtual reality, and motion simulation.

Chief executive Tim Luft said: “As they embark on a new journey, they are leading the way in which UK colleges adopt virtual reality and augmented reality as an everyday teaching tool.”

Marches LEP chairman Graham Wynn said: “We are delighted to support this fantastic new facility which will help ensure that this region has the necessary skills and training to enable it to thrive and prosper.

“We are committed to ensuring that our existing workforce has the latest digital and technical skills which are critical for all business sectors and that our youngsters leave education fully-equipped to play their part in the modern workplace. This new suite will play an important role in delivering those aims.”