Late last year the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) donated $10,000 to help the School of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering purchase 30 sets of Oculus Go Virtual Reality Goggles to assist in teaching. By using virtual reality in teaching, students have a chance to experience the environments they are engineering and designing for in their classroom. As a result of the new set of virtual reality goggles, the School will be able to utilise virtual reality in their engineering classes on a regular basis for many more students. This will significantly enhance their ability to deliver greater levels of innovative, immersive, technology enhanced learning at UOW.

The Goggles have also been successfully used for class-sized groups of high school students. For example, a group of Year 11 students studying Engineering Studies for their HSC had the opportunity to use the goggles to solve a mining engineering ventilation problem in a virtual underground mine. The students had to analyse ventilation and gas monitoring data to determine why a dangerous atmosphere had developed. This type of innovative technology is routinely used in the mining industry and has contributed to the industry now having much lower rates of injuries and fatalities than any of the other heavy industries. The goggle activities have proven to be very popular with the class with one student saying it was “the best activity I have done all day!” Other students asked if they would get to use virtual reality in the classroom if they study engineering at UOW (Yes! Absolutely).

In addition many thanks go to the Coal Services Virtual Reality team (part of Coal Mining Health and Safety Services) who have worked tirelessly over the last two months to create the underground mine virtual reality scenario. Whilst the School has been using virtual reality in their mining engineering teaching for the last few years, they previously had to use the Coal Services VR Theatre off campus.