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Training the next generation of petroleum engineers with simulator technology

Drilling Systems’ simulators virtually transport petroleum engineering students to an oil rig to learn about drilling, well control and well intervention from the safety of a classroom.

Richard Coates, Director of Technology Operations, 3t Energy Group explains: “Those reaching adulthood in the 21st century require an entirely new approach to training and education. Unlike any other generation before them, millennials have grown up with technology embedded in their lives. Mobile phones seem welded to their hands and video games and YouTube are entertainment mainstays. For this crop of future workers, using technology is as natural as breathing.

“So how do current learning strategies cater for this next generation of talent with a lifelong relationship with technology? The answer is easy – most don’t. We need to turn our existing learning strategies on their head and look at how the next generation of talent has successfully learned up to now – via technology.

“Learning through technology is fast paced in highly visual and auditory environments and it is what this new generation is looking for in everyday life. Not just gaming.

“Drilling Systems’ parent company, 3T Energy Group, is transforming training across the global energy sector through technology. And Drilling Systems is currently developing next generation simulators, which virtually transport students to an oil rig to learn about drilling for oil from the safe environment of the classroom.

“The latest simulators are not dissimilar to video games. Ultra-realistic graphics, highly immersive scenarios and your own avatar with the ability to influence events on the screen. As well as being extremely engaging, this technology is highly effective. In high-risk sectors, like oil and gas, the consequences of human error or equipment malfunction can be catastrophic.

“Simulators allow students to experience all the movement, sounds and operations of a real offshore drill but in a safe setting. They learn how to operate the equipment and practise everyday operations without worrying about making mistakes. In fact, learning through your own mistakes is a well-known and useful tool in training. By actively involving the user in making mistakes you ensure better memory retention. Essentially you learn more from your own mistakes so a delegate seeing the consequences of their actions will remember the experience.

“Virtual reality technology is also being increasingly used by the oil and gas sector as an engaging learning tool. 3T Energy Group is at the forefront of this technology and recently developed a revolutionary virtual reality programme for SANAD. The unique programme was created to provide an engaging way to refresh skills and improve safety for SANAD personnel working on land-rigs in Saudi Arabia. In an industry-first, the virtual reality programme automatically links with a custom-built competency management system to provide critical workforce intelligence, which enables Sanad to tailor future training.

“Apps can also be used to good effect to embed learning. A recent workplace app developed by 3T Energy Group uses artificial intelligence, lively graphics and the addictive and competitive qualities of gaming to test and develop competency in personnel.

“With the extremely simple premise of a two-minute quiz-based ‘work-out’ which staff complete every morning on a mobile phone, the app improves knowledge and embeds critical information relating to job roles. This ‘work-out quiz’ uses a limited range of topics to maximise knowledge retention and applies artificial intelligence to ensure the user is tested more rigorously in subject areas in which they are weak. The scores are automatically added to a company leader-board to harness competitiveness as a motivator for learning.

“Training technologies like these, which harness the power and engaging nature of video game technology, can impart highly targeted, critical information in a fun way and aid learning retention for the global energy sector.

“As well as helping the sector develop a competent and safe workforce, the use of this technology ensures an engaging learning experience which individuals from the Millennial generation not only enjoy but expect!”