KPC adopts new 'realities' for process technology classes
by Henry Haney, KRC associate professor of process technology |
Starting in fall semester 2022, KPC’s process technology (PRT) program will enhance its A.A.S. offerings by employing immersive reality in its classes. The PRT program has been awarded a Technical Vocational Education Program Grant to create web-accessible labs using the “360 Immersive Reality” program.
The purpose for this development was to facilitate lab training for those students in Alaska who could not readily travel to KPC for on-site labs.
The 360 IR technology is more advanced and user-friendly than the standard virtual reality many people are familiar with. It requires no special headset, can be used with reduced bandwidth and provides a three-dimensional effect on a flat-screen monitor.
These characteristics enable students to feel as if they are on location walking through the Process Simulator at KPC, able to view all parts from every angle, including detailed close-ups. Hotspot buttons are included in the programming to provide students with immediate access to more information (in written and/or video format), which for students is like having a mentor walking alongside them answering questions and providing explanations.
The 360 IR program is a proven tool now being used for training in a variety of process industries, the military where applicable, and certain government entities. KPC is one of the first process technology schools in the North American Process Tech Alliance to use this technology for remote lab training.
Meanwhile, KPC is also submitting grant requests for another new development in virtual-reality remote training. The “Augmented Reality” program would allow potential instrumentation students throughout Alaska to complete a large percentage of the program regardless of location, work schedules or personal circumstances.
AR is a new development, and its potential for training is just being realized. While this type of cutting-edge training is much different than former programs, such methods are now in the first stages of being used for process industry and some military and are demonstrating the cost value and training efficiency with proven results. There are no known instrumentation training programs nationally that have begun using AR for remote lab training.
AR does require a headset that is adaptable to most home computer systems. Students using the headset will feel as if they are on-site working on instrumentation equipment. As students move their hands, they will see virtual arms and hands that follow their movements. Students would feel as if they are using the necessary tools for instrument disassembly, repair, reassembly, alignment and tuning.
While this is not actual hands-on work, AR allows students to move through a repair scenario, gaining confidence, so that in the field they are more confident, safe and efficient, having prepared and become familiar through AR simulation.