In 1994, my roommate at Clemson University let me experience the Virtual Reality (VR) lab he worked in on campus. I walked a plank between two skyscrapers. I will never forget the sensation when I intentionally stepped off the plank. My stomach turned and I lost all bearings as I hurled down to the city street below.
Fast forward almost thirty years and I work out primarily in VR. For over two years now, I can’t get enough of Beat Saber by Beat Games. If you aren’t sweating and panting for air at the end of a session, you aren’t doing it right. Every session, I compete against four other random people from around the world. We get a lightsaber in each hand and slash at blocks to the tempo of some pumping tunes. The results? I have had an absolute blast and I am in the best shape since my late 20s.
A couple of years ago, some members of our company and I had a meeting on a lunar base with company partners. After I got over the initial feeling of silliness in exchanging a virtual handshake, I was surprised at how comfortable the experience began to feel. We “sat” at a table in the base and talked business while looking out the window at the stars. The results? A productive meeting that sparked some innovative ideas.
I walked into a virtual aircraft hangar and had a table with a simple airplane engine completely disassembled on a table. On the first try, it took me 40 mins to put it together. I reset it and tried it over and over until I got it under 5 mins. Does this mean I can now put together a real one, most likely not. But certainly, I increased my familiarity with what the parts are and where they go. The results? I gained some knowledge in a safe environment that allowed me to reset the exercise an infinite number of times.
Our company partnered to model a virtual electric steam turbine deck with a cutaway of the turbine internals for a utility and gave training on the steam system on a huge virtual screen on the turbine deck. All this was done while we sat in five different US states. The results? Absorbing content in a way that we could see, hear and interact with.
I am sure that you also have a VR story or two at this point as well. All our experiences probably differ since there is a huge range of application and, quite honestly, we are all starting from different reference points of acceptance of this technology. The consensus I get from peers in our industry is that it is an important piece of a blended approach to learning. We understand that there are no shortcuts and that you must put the work into your education. However, there are ways to improve the result of the work we are already willing to put in.
NEXA™: Nuclear Excellence Academy
This idea is foundational to NEXA™ (The Nuclear Excellence Academy). NEXA ™ brings together the right people with the right experience and the right technology to modernize and transform nuclear training. Through sound analysis, design, and development, NEXA ™ finds the right place and balance for VR/AR, adaptive learning, gamification, AI, and SME mentorship in Nuclear Training.
NEXA ™’s modern training program will increase nuclear safety by increasing the value of the time spent learning. By catering learning to unique individual needs, NEXA ™ transforms training into a more personally rewarding experience. The hard work that you put into training will now be better focused resulting in increased performance on the job.