Virtual reality shows the future

Industry-leading technology is now available at The Bedford College Group via a £200,000 Virtual Reality suite,

The ‘cave’ means those in a range of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines can “see” computer-aided designs through special headsets which allow “interactivity”.

So advanced is the technology that it can be used to link between the suite and live working environment on a construction, manufacturing, storage or creative site.

It was has been made possible through a generous donation by the Connolly Foundation which is dedicated to supporting young people across Bedfordshire.

The foundation has given £4 million to local causes since being formed 12 years ago.

Cutting the ribbon on the suite within the Buchanan Centre on the Cauldwell Street Campus was Connolly Foundation trustee Vanessa Connolly and associate Steve Lowe.

Said Vanessa, a former surveyor and CEO of a prominent housing association in Bedford: “I was fascinated to see how the world looks through this technology and what a tremendous asset it is to people training to work in the construction industry, which is where the Connolly Foundation fortunes were founded.”

CEO and Principal of The Bedford College Group Ian Pryce CBE said: “To have this sort of asset for technology training here within our Advanced Engineering Centre is a dream resource which brings together architecture, design, surveying and on-going construction activities.”

Head of Engineering Steve Croft said: “The much wider advantage of this equipment is that it can be used by people in creative industries as well as those in engineering.

“Any sort of design can be brought to life via the headsets.”

Proving the point was Andrew Morris of the Ashe Construction group, who built the Buchanan Centre was thrilled by the technology and said it could prove a powerful asset for organisations such as this by bringing plans from the drawing board into “life”.

He said: “Building Information Modelling is now insisted upon in many Government contracts so young people who can master this sort of technology are in great demand.”