VR showcase a ‘game changer’ for the marine industry

Mast Academy NZ has released its first VR showcase for the marine, composites, and textiles industries.

The technology has been designed for use in schools, conferences and career days and to offer a broad overview of the marine and composite sectors in an engaging, realistic and authentic way.

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Chris van der Hor, CEO of the Marine and Specialised Technologies Academy of New Zealand, says MAST’s VR showcase aims to connect with young people in a fun, entertaining and informative way.

“It allows us to showcase our trades from boat building to finishing, from systems engineering to marina management, from composites to industrial textiles and potentially attract those who might otherwise have not considered a career in marine or the associated specialised technologies.”

Chris van der Hor says the new VR showcase is a part of MAST’s embrace of “edutainment”, a creative mix of education and entertainment that, until very recently, had only been available at wealthy universities and technology-rich schools.

“In addition to releasing the VR showcase, we are revamping our online learning programmes for apprentices, introducing an exciting new ‘virtually real’ version of learner engagement to the marine industry.”

He says the plan combines problem solving, understanding and scenario conceptualisation in a way that appeals to the hands-on apprentices who are used to working in practical working environments.

“Online engagement learning, when done well, allows apprentices or trainees to become more immersed in their training programmes, to be hungry to understand and practice the new skills they are acquiring,” he says.

“It also provides greater opportunities to learn new skills for all apprentices, regardless of where they are, what they do daily and what facilities are available.

“For example, being able to practice a skill online without damaging expensive equipment or products can be very beneficial, especially for employers!”

As well as the release of their first VR showcase, MAST also focuses on those who might not find conventional learning appealing. Such as using engaging digital tools, videos and augmented reality to recreate complex tasks, like dissecting an engine to study its parts.

According to Chris van der Hor, the combination of real-world experience and online study is proving a game-changer for the learning process and
is just the start.

“VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) technologies are being integrated into all our workbooks and training resources, and we are introducing interactive quizzes and 3D models for pre-assessment tasks and tests.

“This pioneering, blended delivery approach (combining work-based learning, online education and campus-based practical training) will enable us to create a more knowledgeable, skilled workforce, ensuring a future filled with viable and profitable businesses for our marine and composites industries.”

Photography: Mast Academy NZ

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