Virtual reality teaching facility opens at Nottingham University

Product Design and Manufacture students at Nottingham University are the first in the country to benefit from a virtual reality (VR) classroom aimed at transforming the teaching of VR software.

With 40 high image quality VR headsets students can choose how they learn and experience VR
With 40 high image quality VR headsets students can choose how they learn and experience VR - Nottingham University

Based in Nottingham’s Engineering Science and Learning Centre (ESLC), the classroom enables remote viewing and communication between lecturers and students in a way that’s never been done before.

Containing 40 high image quality VR headsets students can choose the way they want to learn and experience VR. In total, 35 of the headsets are tethered overhead to individual high-power PCs, and the other five consist of more traditional desk-based systems with display screens.

In addition to the in-situ technology, 90 wireless headsets are available to loan to students that can be used in any location to continue studies outside the classroom. There is also staff and student access to several 3D scanners and 360 stereoscopic cameras.

In a statement, Professor Joel Segal, head of Mechanical Materials and Manufacturing Engineering (M3) in the Faculty of Engineering, said: “While many universities, including us, have existing VR labs, these are nowhere near the scale of our newly unveiled facilities, which will provide our students with access to cutting edge tools and technologies.

“We have a desire to be at the forefront of technology in teaching and we’ve already been making strides in this area in recent years in our smaller VR labs. Now, however, we have the opportunity to take the lead in the UK and further build our reputation for producing engineers that are ready to shape the real world.”

Another aim of the facilities is to allow real-time collaboration across international campuses.

Professor Sam Kingman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering, said: “We believe that great minds don’t think alike, which is why we want to provide our students with a truly unique experience.

“We’ll also be working to create custom environments and objects that are suitable for teaching a range of engineering and architecture subjects as we widen our remit in the coming years to allow students from other courses access to the VR classroom.”