DCU gets a new virtual reality leadership lab

8 Oct 2021

Anas Oudina wearing a VR headset at the launch of the lab. Image: Julien Behal/DCU

Students will learn leadership skills through immersive VR tech, and an annual scholarship is being established.

A new virtual reality leadership lab is being launched at Dublin City University (DCU) Business School.

It is in memory of alumnus and former Digicel CEO Colm Delves, who died last year, and is being established with support from Digicel.

The new lab will use virtual reality and telepresence technologies to teach more than 2,000 DCU Business School students leadership skills each year through a hands-on approach.

Students will be able to immerse themselves in simulations using VR headsets and hand controllers to understand concepts that are better taught through visualisation, including skills such as interview preparation, public speaking and decision-making.

They will also be able to remotely participate in workshops using telepresence robots – with screens, cameras, speakers and microphones to substitute a user’s presence in a different location.

Professors will be able to create customised learning experiences for students by virtually transporting them to unfamiliar environments such as developing countries, where decision-making may pose a different set of challenges.

“Virtual reality technology is being increasingly used by leading schools across the globe to aid in student learning development,” said Prof Colm O’Gorman, DCU Business School dean. “And DCU Business School is proud to be leading the charge in Ireland.”

DCU president Prof Daire Keogh added that the initiatives will contribute to DCU’s efforts to “develop graduates who are equipped to bring sustainable value to their organisations and society at large” and to “confidently manage and lead in environments that are not predictable”.

Scholarship fund

An annual scholarship for exceptional students who need financial support to study at the postgraduate level in the business school is also being introduced with support from The Colm Delves Fund. DCU student Anas Ouadina has been named as the inaugural awardee.

Born in Morocco, Ouadina moved to Dublin with his parents when he was six months old. He studied economics, politics and law at DCU and will now begin a master’s in finance at the university.

Speaking of Colm Delves, Digicel chair and founder Denis O’Brien said: “What marked him out in particular as an exceptional individual was his equal passion for giving back, particularly in poorer countries, and for identifying and nurturing young talent.”

Through an additional outreach programme, more than 1,000 post-primary school students will also have access to the new lab and learn using VR technologies.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic