Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cutting edge virtual construction training centre opens in Coventry

The first construction training simulator in the UK – the ACT-UK Simulation Centre - has opened with a pilot training course for Balfour Beatty in Coventry.

The ACT-UK Simulation Centre, located in Cheetah Road at the Coventry University Technology Park, has cost £8.7 million and is set to transform contruction training in the UK. It uses cutting edge computer simulation and actors to create a virtual construction site in great detail. Trainees use a computer joystick to tour the site and have to deal with different challenging site management scenarios based on real situations. The simulation concept is similar to maritime and aviation simulation training.

ACT-UK managing director Michiel Schriiver says, "It is great that so many people have helped us to reach this milestone - the completion of our first course. We’re very excited to be opening the ACT-UK Simulation Centre which introduces an entirely new style of construction management training to the UK. Using proven technology, the centre allows construction managers to test and develop their technical and people skills in a safe, controlled environment which is powerfully realistic. The simulation is so authentic that people forget they are in a training situation and become fully immersed in the challenge of managing the virtual site."

Engineering and construction industry leader Balfour Beatty has been collaborating with the ACT-UK (Advanced Construction Technologies, Ltd) Simulation Centre for the last two years on the development of training courses for their own employees.

"This takes our development and training to a different level," says Adam Parker, HR director for Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish and Southern. "Using VR (virtual reality) enables us to put our trainee project managers in a live environment without exposing them to any risks. This kind of cutting-edge training also makes us a very attractive proposition for graduates looking to come into the industry."

Balfour Beatty sub-agent Dariusz Mrugala had the chance to undertake the virtual reality training course. He said, "This is the best training I have ever had - I really enjoyed it. In the next 10 or 20 years this type of training will be standard in the industry. Normally you have people talking to you within a group exercise – I liked the fact that you are working on your own. I had never really thought before about the type of person that I am and that I can use my passion, imagination and power. The supervisors and actors showed me new ways to work and new ways to manage people."

The ACT-UK Simulation Centre is only the second virtual training centre of its kind in the world. The first one is the Dutch Building Management Simulation Centre, which served as the model for the Coventry facility.

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