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October 1, 2009

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Virtual-reality construction training course launched

The simulation centre, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, cost £8.7 million to build and is run by ACT-UK. It features a state-of-the-art computer-generated simulation to create a virtual construction site, which allows construction managers to develop their skills in a controlled environment.To make the training as lifelike as possible trainees work in fully-equipped site cabins, which are identical to those found on any building site. They then have to deal with demanding site-management scenarios that are based on real-life situations with site personnel, colleagues, and members of the public played by professional actors. Supervisors observe the trainees’ behaviour through cameras, and work with them to help identify and develop their talents and strengths.Central to the training is a three-dimensional computer simulation of a construction project, which is displayed on a 12-metre panoramic screen. Trainees use a computer joystick to tour the virtual site and to view close-ups of the construction work.  Twelve Balfour Beatty delegates attended a three-day course at the centre to pilot the new scheme. Balfour Beatty sub-agent, Dariusz Mrugala, was impressed with the course. He said: “This is the best training I have ever had and I really enjoyed it. In the next 10 or 20 years this type of training will be standard in the industry.”ACT-UK managing director, Michiel Schrijver, added: “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.”

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