As continued population growth places a strain on the water supplies globally, there is a growing demand for skilled professionals with expertise in water and wastewater management. To train a water professional, several areas of study (including Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Engineering) need to be covered effectively. Traditional classroom and “on the job training” is not sufficient due to the amount of subject matter needed to be covered, risks of training in a live environment, and the time required to gain the required experience.
Access to clean water is a must for thriving communities. Population growth, environmental factors, and a lack of trained water and wastewater professionals make this a challenge globally.
There was no way to educate large amounts of trainees in an efficient manner using standard training techniques. The UN’s goal of having safe drinking water for all people by 2030 will require a new way of training water professionals.
The subject matter needed to become a qualified water or wastewater professional resides across several different disciplines. A universal qualification framework for all professions related to Water and Wastewater management would centralize the subject matter and accelerate training.
Festo Didactic and EON Reality have created a Virtual Reality Water and Wastewater simulator that features several scenarios in which users interact with a virtual water treatment plant, operate machinery, and perform emergency procedures. Through Virtual Reality, users will receive hands on experience with dangerous and difficult to reproduce situations. This is a practical application of Festo’s new discipline, Aquatronics, which coalesces the information needed as a water and wastewater professional into one area of study.
SCALABLE “HANDS ON” TRAINING
Through this virtual reality simulator trainees are able to learn from realistic installations within a classroom environment allowing them to learn from mistakes without expensive and dangerous consequences. This allows for trainees to gain experience in much less time tha
n conventional methods.
LOW COST, UNIVERSAL SOLUTION
Because this simulation only requires a head mounted display and a compatible computer, it can be deployed globally with minimal cost. Additionally due to Virtual Reality’s showing versus telling teaching modality and easily localized content, language barriers and literacy issues become less of a factor in training.
This simulator combines several topics (mechanics, electrics, chemistry, biology, etc.) together to form a complete picture of what a water and wastewater professional experiences. The simulation also incorporates a console operator who works with the field operator for more realistic training.
The Aquatronics Virtual Reality Simulator allows a trainee to “learn by doing” thus increasing understanding and knowledge retention. Training in this 3D immersive environment is a vast improvement over conventional training techniques that focus on classroom lectures. This application was launched at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition in São Paulo to simulate working in a wastewater plant for the Aquatronics competition.
“The idea of this project was to develop a virtual environment to place the student directly in their task so they could apply their understanding and skills in a virtual … water or wastewater management facility,” said Dr. Nader-Iman Imani, CEO and Head of Global Education of Festo Didactic. “At WorldSkills 2015, we could show what we mean by Aquatronics and the learning scenarios we could simulate. The four different scenarios we have developed has given us a fantastic opportunity to bring our understanding of Aquatronics to the world community. We are very much looking forward to creating more learning environments and exercises to Virtual Reality.”