UTC Students Test Virtual Reality World

UTC Sheffield students are putting their creative and technical skills to the test in a virtual reality project to trial the design of prosthetic limbs for amputees.

Learners from the creative and digital, and the advanced engineering specialisms, have developed designs that will be tested in a virtual world.

A group shot of the UTC Sheffield students involved in the project.

A group shot of the UTC Sheffield students involved in the project.

Staff and students at Sheffield Hallam University are leading the virtual reality and prosthetics design pilot project in partnership with UTC Sheffield, which opened on Matilda Street, last year.

Virtual reality is a computer simulated environment that can imitate real or imagined worlds. The aim of the six-month project is to develop a system that can test the designs of prosthetic upper arm limbs for amputees.

Using technology including Oculus Rift – a headset that allows the wearer to feel as though they are in a virtual reality world – the students have to test the effectiveness of their designs. The tests include simulating activities such as picking up a cereal packet, coin or bottle in a virtual kitchen.

The project is financed by Sheffield Hallam University’s Imagine fund, which was set up by Vice Chancellor Professor Philip Jones to encourage innovative multi-disciplinary research across the University’s four faculties. Students from both of the UTC’s specialisms – creative and digital, and engineering – have been involved in the project.

UTC Sheffield student Praise Ncube tests the Oculus Rift with Denise Eaton, Project Manager, Centre for Science Education, Sheffield Hallam University.

UTC Sheffield student Praise Ncube tests the Oculus Rift with Denise Eaton, Project Manager, Centre for Science Education, Sheffield Hallam University.

Student Praise Ncube said: “I’ve really enjoyed working on this project. It was a chance for engineers and creative and digital students to work with designers from the University’s team. The highlight was seeing my ideas for prosthetics turned into prototype, which I tried out through the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset –that was amazing. I came to UTC Sheffield to get the chance to do imaginative stuff like this – it’s brilliant.”

Brigidin Crowther, Assistant Principal, UTC Sheffield, said: “We are pleased to be working with Sheffield Hallam University on such an innovative design project. It has been a fascinating opportunity for our young people to work with designers, psychologists and researchers from the University team.”

Project Manager Denise Eaton, from the University’s Centre For Science Education, said: “We are delighted to work with UTC students. This project has given them an opportunity to apply their technical learning and skills to an academic and practical challenge. It’s really brought their subjects to life. They’ve also discovered more about working in and contributing to a team.”

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