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Lockheed Martin has awarded a grant to the Brigham Young University (BYU) Department of Mechanical Engineering to develop aspects of a virtual reality training system that will advance Lockheed’s digital engineering training. The system developed allows engineers to use virtual reality to undergo essential training, including for aerospace and defense purposes.
According to deseretnews.com, the system leverages immersive 3-D technology from the Unity game engine to create training environments accessible to engineers from any location in the world — as long as they have a virtual reality headset. “A lot of resources have been invested in this product, and we want to leverage the investment for engineering purposes,” BYU mechanical engineering professor John Salmon said in a statement. “We’re making training faster, making it cheaper and making it possible to train from remote locations.”
The development, by BYU student Jeffery Smith who interned for the company last year, allows trainees to blend themselves into a virtual reality environment where they can install, repair or replace components on a system themselves instead of watching someone do it on a video. “If you’re going to teach someone how to swing a baseball bat, you can show them and even put your arms around them, but you can’t put your and their hands and arms exactly where they need to be at the same time,” Salmon said. “In virtual reality, you can. You can literally walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”
Smith, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering believes the finished project will enable engineers to transfer their skills into the real world faster and more accurately than current training methods. For their part, Lockheed Martin engineers say virtual reality engineering saves them millions of dollars by avoiding extra design and build time.