Labs on Campus get into gear

Wed, 12 Jun 2019 15:09:00 BST
Grant McClure, S5 pupil at Stewarton Academy, gets to grips with the simulator.
Grant McClure, S5 pupil at Stewarton Academy, gets to grips with the simulator.

Senior secondary school pupils got to experience life in the fast lane at Glasgow Caledonian University – quite literally.

The young people were able to experience the University's 3D driving simulator, which allows 'drivers' to navigate a perfectly simulated stretch of the M8, M74 and M80 in a choice of conditions.

One of the options lets the driver tackle the motorways in dense fog, before giving them the chance to drive the same stretch again using a special guidance display. When initiated, the windscreen of the car highlights where other vehicles are on the motorway within a 400-metre range and even lets the driver know when it's safe to change lanes.

The simulator is the work of Professor Vassilis Charissis and his team, based in the Virtual Reality and Simulation Laboratory (VRS Lab) within the School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment.

The visiting young people were participating in GCU's Labs on Campus event, which offers primary, secondary pupils and teachers – as well as home-school pupils and their parents – access to the latest scientific equipment, research and teaching facilities and the expertise of GCU staff and students who share knowledge and inspire young people about STEM and university options.

During the 2019 Glasgow Science Festival, GCU has hosted labs for more than 300 young people on vision sciences; biology, human movement; podiatry; renewable energy physics; computing, gaming and coding; chemistry; and virtual reality.

Professor Charissis said: "Our simulator is a very interesting version of 'serious games' that the pupils can apply to their knowledge in the future if they decide to work in a computing environment or games development. The driving simulator gave them the opportunity to experience a fully immersive environment and see the opportunities of building and programming SATs type of systems. These are emerging technologies and we're expecting them, in the near future, to be the cornerstone of most of the systems they would develop for the public."

Morgan Cummings, an S5 pupil at Stewarton Academy, said: "I think it's quite cool to get the opportunity to come to a uni to work out what you want to do. When you're in school, and you're in classes, you don't really have an idea, so getting to come to a campus, or getting to see all the lecturers and the environment, you can work out if that's for you."

Fraser McKay, a teacher at Stewarton Academy, said: "I think it's really important for the pupils to see how these things work at universities. Getting the experience of actually just coming to a university and seeing the campus, talking to people, talking to some of the academics that have built these things and about how the team works, is important."