A group of people from SETU and DCU standing outside a building on SETU campus watching a man wearing a VR headset.
From left: Sithara Sreenilayam, DCU; SETU students Samira Nazari, Phuoc Huynh and Jade Stanley; IMI 4 programme director David Culliton; and Prof Muhannad Ahmed Obeidi, DCU. Image: Patrick Browne.

New advanced manufacturing course will use VR for flexible learning

3 Aug 2023

Participants of the Level 9 advanced manufacturing course will be provided with VR headsets to take part in practical lessons designed to provide industry experience.

Dublin City University (DCU) and South East Technological University (SETU) have joined forces to create a course in advanced manufacturing that commences this September. The Level 9 Innovative Materials for Industry 4.0 (IMI 4) course is targeting learners who want to further their careers in Industry 4.0.

Its methods of delivery are what make the course quite unique. It will be taught using virtual reality (VR) as a way of enabling learners to avail themselves of flexible and online learning while getting practical experience in a lab environment. Participants will have to wear VR headsets to take part in these lessons, which will be “provided as necessary”.

The course is delivered online so students from any location can enrol. It offers a micro-credentialing system which lets learners tailor their experience to accommodate their own individual learning goals. There will be four technical modules and a self-selected practical project module that aims to teach learners problem-solving and provide them with industry experience.

While the course is only set to formally kick off in mid-September, it has been piloted already. Pat Healy, who works with Fort Wayne Metals in Castlebar, Co Mayo, took part in the pilot and said he found it “very manageable” for people working full-time.

“I am very impressed with the wide range of state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 technologies that we have been introduced to. The delivery of each module all within a five-week block makes it very manageable for people working full-time. There is a nice blend of lectures, project work and AR (augmented reality), which makes the course enjoyable, and the project elements allow us to tailor our learnings to areas that are most relevant to our own industries.”

Another pilot course participant, Paschal Sage who works with Lufthansa Technik Turbine Shannon said that “The virtual module lectures are structured and delivered very well, and are very informative. The assessments, while challenging, ensure the use of the information learned and encourage independent further research on the subject matter.” He said he would recommend the course to anyone interested in advanced manufacturing.

Applications are open and anyone interested in enrolling for the September intake can find application forms on IT Carlow’s website.

According to David Culliton, programme director and course lead at SETU, the Higher Education Authority in Ireland “considers VR training to be an exciting and novel approach in industry, setting a new standard for immersive and effective learning experiences”.

Dermot Brabazon, course lead at DCU, pointed out that the manufacturing sector has been transformed dramatically over the last 20 years due to globalisation, technology development and emerging markets. “However, one of the critical issues the engineering sector faces is an acute labour shortage,” he said, adding that the effort by DCU and SETU “has been developed to meet the immediate training needs in the growing area of advanced manufacturing and bridge the skills gap. It has been designed to link the traditional and Industry 4.0 technologies, with data analytics, materials selection and sustainability, in design and manufacturing to help Irish companies remain competitive.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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