City of Glasgow College realises potential to use immersive visualisation technology

EDUCATION is more than the dissemination of knowledge. It’s about providing students with opportunities to grow and develop their skills in a way that isn’t confined by the campus, while preparing them for success in their chosen industry.

At City of Glasgow College, Digital Technologies’ students are benefitting from innovations that are giving them an insight into the world of work and also providing inspirational learning experiences.

For the past five years, the college has been involved with WorldSkills, a global community that organises student competitions, providing them with real-world challenges. The College is top of the UK Skills league. This is in part due to the college’s strength in digital technologies, where students are taken through the training for the competition by a dedicated team led by lecturer Craig Creelman. 

“The competition not only encourages them to be the best in their field but also to see what industry is looking out for. 

“The conditions are intense and challenging and they have to work to incredibly high standards. It is fantastic training ground for the world of work.”

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SUCCESS: Student Ross Findlay won gold for his 3D Digital Game Art at WordSkills.

Those standards have also resulted in students being involved in a project leading the way in digital technologies. 

Project Mobius is a partnership between University of Glasgow’s Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience (CSPE) and Sublime Digital, and funded by Innovate UK. 

Douglas Liddle, curriculum head of Digital Technologies, could immediately see the potential to use immersive visualisation technology at City of Glasgow College.

“It completely mirrors what we’re doing with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and modelling in 3D. 

“Following a productive meeting with the partnership, two of our winning students - Ross Findlay, who won gold for 3D Digital Game Art and Erik Petnehasi, who took bronze for 3D Digital Game Art will be working with Sublime over the summer.”

Other students will also have the opportunity to design and research assets for virtual reality and virtual experience Mobius projects adding to their portfolios. 

For 20-year-old Ross Findlay, the opportunity to work with Project Mobius will be the ideal link between finishing his HND at City of Glasgow College and beginning a degree in 3D Computer Animation and Visualisation at Glasgow Caledonian University in the autumn.  

He believes the training and discipline required by WorldSkills helped him to develop his skills and confidence.“We had short deadlines to create the assets for a pirate-themed game. Our judges there were all from games studios, so they were looking for people to deliver at a pace required in the workplace.

“Technology changes so quickly, even in the short space of time between me completing my HND, things have moved on incredibly.  

“I hadn’t planned on doing a degree but 3D is something I really enjoy because of my college course.”

City of Glasgow College recognises that students need an edge to stand out in a competitive job market. Douglas Liddle adds: “Recognising students’ talents outside of the classroom creates a wider breadth of learning experience and potential employment opportunities, especially within the constantly evolving STEM sector.”

Making their mark in stone

PROJECT Mobius is a significant example of how digital technologies are being recognised as having a far wider impact than simply something that powers the games industry.

“The applications for 3D technology are incredibly wide, and while many students will consider working in gaming we encourage them to consider the many and varied options,” says Craig Creelman, lecturer in Digital

Technologies at City of Glasgow College. “From the health industry to government services to engineering, it’s possible that many students might find themselves in a very different role than they first imagined.”

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Inspiring: Lecturer Craig Creelman says students appreciate their hand in shaping history.

Three projects which illustrate that are current collaborations with The Hunterian in Glasgow, Historic Environment Scotland, and the Women in Engineering Society.

For The Hunterian, the HND 3D Animation students at City of Glasgow College are involved in a computer animation project on a section of the Antonine Wall. 

This will bring history to life, as the students work to bring us Verecunda, a slave girl who describes life in a Roman camp from the window of her quarters - a historically accurate kitchen within Barr Hill Fort recreated by the students. The animation will be part of an exhibit at the Hunterian Museum.  

Another project, this time for Historic Environment Scotland, is also based around the Antonine Wall. Here, 3D printing technologies come into their own, with the students developing 3D models of a number of distance slabs. 

New versions of these stones will then be milled and stonemasonry students from City of Glasgow College will carve the inscriptions. 

“In 20 years’ time, students involved in this Antonine Wall project will be able to go up to the stones that are in place and say, ‘I was involved in making that and I think that’s amazing,” says Craig. 

“I often think how great it would be to be a student at the moment and be involved in these exciting projects.

“I would love to be able to go to the Hunterian project, put on the headset and know that I made it.”

The third project involves a sometimes overlooked female engineer called Verena Holmes. For the Women in Engineering Society (WES), digital technologies’ students are creating an animation which shows Verena and her work on locomotive engineering at the North British Locomotive Company in Springburn. 

This will form an integral part of a Women in Engineering Society Exhibition taking place at City of Glasgow College in June, as part of its Maritime50 celebrations.

“Our courses have a high ratio of female students,” adds Craig. “However, it is a real eye-opener for them to see what it was like to be a female engineer all those years ago, involved in groundbreaking work but dismissed when the seocnd world war ended.”

Craig points to the importance of these projects as a chance to keep up with every new piece of technology, “whether that’s the 3D printing or Virtual Reality headsets that they will be confronted with in the workplace. 

“They also open the students’ eyes to the possibility that their work can become part of our culture and history.”