Utilising the advances made in Virtual Reality (VR) technology, Bridgwater & Taunton College are creating a learning environment that replicates a nuclear plant in microcosm: PRACTICE – Practical Reactor Activity Centre; Thermodynamics, Instrumentation, Control & Electrics. This new programme enables individuals to experience first-hand the demands of the nuclear workplace – without being in the ‘licensed environment’. They can learn about and rehearse highly technical operations and develop appropriate industry behaviours, all of which can be perfected in a safe setting.
Working with national and local employers, Bridgwater & Taunton College are creating a highly-trained, professional, technical workforce for the nuclear sector. The College supports a range of learners, from those entering the industry through to those studying degrees.
Meeting industry needs
There is huge competition for specialist skills in the nuclear industry that are already in short supply across the UK. In Somerset the decommissioning of the existing facility at Hinkley and construction of a new one is creating demand for up to 25,000 jobs. The facilities and courses at the College have been co-designed with employers to ensure they meet their requirements and to guarantee that learners are equipped with the professional and technical skills they need to put them on track for a successful career in the sector.
Solving practical problems
The VR system exposes learners to situations that otherwise would be impracticable to re-create such as working in a confined space or using complex lifting operations within a nuclear plant.
The use of such technology has challenged the way that training in the nuclear sector has historically been delivered and assessed, bringing theory to life in a hands-on and engaging manner that allows learners to ‘rewind’ and analyse their performance. They are able to learn from their mistakes and from each other in a safe environment. This process deepens understanding and supports more informed decision making when they are re-immersed into the scenario for a second or third time.