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NHS visits for the next phase of VR development

The City of Liverpool College’s Digital Academy welcomed NHS representatives to its state of the art motion capture suite this week, where students showcased the progress they have made to virtualise the radiotherapy process at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

The visit marks the next pase of The City of Liverpool College’s partnership with international engineering enterprise Laing O’Rourke and The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, one of the country’s leading cancer centres. The partnership has been designed to inspire students with the digital technologies used to develop the brand-new cancer centre and promote the modern careers now available in the construction industry, using digital design skills learnt through games development.

 

 

As part of ‘Project Innovation’, students have been collaborating with the NHS to develop a virtualisation application for The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. Using The City of Liverpool College’s new motion capture suite, students are developing an app to support in alleviating patient anxiety.

The partnership provides students with experience and unique insight into the construction industry, as well as having the opportunity to provide support to the brand new The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

 

 

Steph Doyle, Head of The City of Liverpool College Digital Academy, said:

“For our students to be given the chance to work with a multinational organisation such as Laing O’Rourke and the NHS to develop a truly innovative tool for The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre is an opportunity like no other. It has been incredible to see our students using our new state of the art motion capture suite, to create such an important tool that will make a difference to so many people.

“Providing our students with real world experiences is vital to ensuring they are ready to hit the ground running when they enter the world of work and projects such as this are shining examples of the value that this experience provides both for our students and for the organisations we work with.”

 

 

Nicky Hutton, Advanced Practitioner Therapeutic Radiographer at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, said:

“The facilities at The City of Liverpool College are wonderful and the motion capture suite has allowed us to replicate The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre Building incredibly well. I’ve been blown away by the quality of the work the students have created. Their technical skills are excellent and we will shortly have a brilliant app that will be of massive benefit to our patients.

“We know that patients can feel anxious when they first come for treatment at the cancer centre and this app will enable patients to familiarise themselves with the space and the facilities, helping them to feel much more comfortable early on. I look forward to seeing where this project will take us and the future possibilities collaborating with the college.”

To find out more about about courses at our Digital Academy, please click here.

Students Support Development of Sensory VR App

The City of Liverpool College has partnered with virtual reality (VR) developer, Viz Box Ltd, to create a VR experience for children to help reduce anxiety, improve mental health, and develop motor and concentration skills, as a cost-effective solution for use in hospitals and primary schools. 

Students on the College’s Digital Games Design & Development course were tasked with the live brief with Viz Box, to help create a virtual reality app that replicates a sensory room – an effective tool often used to support children. 

 

A Visitor At The College Using VR To Learn New Skills
A Visitor At The College Using VR To Learn New Skills

 

Whilst incredibly useful in child support, sensory rooms can often be expensive for organisations to install and maintain. As part of the project, students worked as a team alongside industry experts at Viz Box – including previous College alumni, Liam Heron – to create the app, which will enable organisations to provide a sensory experience by purchasing a headset, avoiding the need for additional space, equipment and technology.  

Students used the College’s new cutting-edge motion capture suite and VR studio for further development of the app, which will be rolled out in a future version to engage even more with local primary schools. 

Steph Doyle, Head of The City of Liverpool College’s Digital Academy, said: 

“At The City of Liverpool College, as well as high-quality teaching, one of our top priorities is providing our students with the real world skills they need to secure future jobs in the industry. It’s not just about courses, it’s about careers and setting them up for successful, fulfilling futures. This project has allowed our students to apply the skills they have learnt with us to a setting they may not have expected, demonstrating how transferrable the techniques and knowledge they gain with us are. 

“Given the current climate, it has never been more important for us to ensure our students are industry ready. Through fantastic partnerships such as this, we can be sure that they will hit the ground running.” 

Liam Heron, App Developer at Viz Box, said: 

“As an ex-student of The City of Liverpool College, it was great to come back with a project from Viz Box, to work alongside the students on this Sensory VR. 

“Students had great ideas for new features and models, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it more difficult to execute due to all work being done remotely. However, we were able to work around this through the use of online project management tool, Discord. Students were able to send over their work and I was then able to add it to the project, which was an effective way of working. 

“Lockdown rules are starting to ease up and we are really excited to make use of the motion capture suite offered by the College, to make some unique animations for a specific idea we have in the pipeline. Watch this space!” 

To find out more about courses at our Digital Academy, click here.

Meet the college students levelling up their games design skills

We recently caught up with several of our games design graduates to see what they’ve been doing since finishing at the college and taking up their first roles in the growing digital industry. At the college we offer many courses which enable learners to develop their digital skills, knowledge and expertise with state-of-the-art facilities, to turn what for many people is a hobby into a real, legitimate and prosperous career. In fields such as animation, special effects, games design and concept art, we are extremely proud of what our students are achieving…

Alan Horton – Technical Designer at Lucid Games Ltd

Alan studied with us between 2016 and 2018, on our HNC and HND Games Development Programmes, leaving us to complete his Top Up Degree in Manchester. He recently worked with a small team including another of our graduates, Lee Stockton, on a game design for a ‘Game Jam’ called Jamfuser. Their game, The Last Spark, won the competition and they were given a place in an international game jam tournament. This fantastic achievement gained interest from Liverpool-based developers, Lucid Games, who hired Alan on a permanent basis. You can watch some of The Last Spark below:

 

 

Liam Heron – Freelance Games Developer

Liam has just graduated from our BA (Hons) in Game Design and Concept Art. He recently created an asset pack that fellow game designers can use to increase efficiency in their workflows whilst designing levels in Unreal Engine.

 

 

Damien Coulson – Teacher at the college

Damien completed his HNC and HND between 2016-18 and discovered during this time that he was interested in teaching. Luckily for us, the college was able to offer Damien the opportunity to cover some lessons at The Arts Centre’s Digital Academy on a part-time basis. Damien took this opportunity brilliantly and the students seemed to really enjoy his lessons. He is now a fully-fledged member of the teaching team, teaching both level 2 and level 3 games design.

Stefan Collins – Freelance Games Developer and volunteer at Draw&Code

Steafan is a graduate of the class of 2020. He came to the college to study his HNC & HND in Games Development in 2017 and then topped up to degree level with a BA in Games Design and Concept Art. Despite completing his final project remotely from home during the coronavirus pandemic, Stefan graduated this year with the highest mark we have on record! He achieved a first-class honours degree and is now establishing himself as a freelancer as well as collaborating with Liverpool-based creative tech studio and software developers, Draw&Code.

 

 

You can find out more about Stefan here >

Jack McFarland – 3D Environment Artist at Simbin Studios UK Ltd

Jack previously studied with us at HNC and HND level before we offered the Top Up Degree in Games. He secured employment at newly-formed Simbin Studios in Liverpool, which specialises in creating realistic racing experiences, with his impressive portfolio.

Lewis McDonough – 3D Artist at Skyhook Games

Lewis is another student who studied at the college on our HNC and HND level courses. He now works as a 3D artist at Liverpool-based Skyhook Games, which provides high quality 2D and 3D artwork for the video games industry.

Lee Stockton – Freelance Games Developer and Teacher

Lee graduated from The City of Liverpool College with a very impressive triple distinction performance for our HNC and HND games development programmes and, in his final year, a first-class honours degree in games design. Along with fellow student Alan Horton, Lee was part of the team responsible for creating The Last Spark, which won the Jamfuser games jam competition.

Last year, Lee enrolled onto our one-year PGCE programme to make his journey towards becoming a teacher and started some part-time lecturing with our first-year degree and level 2 games design students. He passed his PGCE and is now developing his portfolio with a view to working freelance and will be returning to the college to continue to teach this September.

 

 

We’d like to say a huge well done to all of our games design students and wish them all the best with their future careers in the sector.

If you’re interested in a career in Digital, ICT or Games Development, or would like to find out more about our courses, click here.

Meet the Computing and Systems Development graduate now working for William Hill

What course did you study and why did you choose it?

I chose to do an HND in Computing and Systems Development. The course seemed to cover lots of various aspects of the IT industry, and I wanted to get exposure to as much as possible.

 

What made you choose The City of Liverpool College?

Being in Halewood at the time there were a few different choices, but The City of Liverpool College had great facilities and a really striking study area. Also, with the location of the college being so close to Bold Street the morning coffee was essential! 🙂

 

What was your general experience of the college like?

Being a mature student, I was apprehensive at first, but everyone from the tutors to the ladies in the canteen were friendly and genuinely interested in how your day was… that made a difference!

 

Did you enjoy the course?

I did an entry level course first (BTEC in IT LVL3) before my HND and all the courses I did were really engaging. Having an interest in IT and having done various IT related tasks prior to the course, I felt the course was informative and very well laid out.

 

 

What skills did you learn, what was covered on the course?

I learned a range of skills from procedural and object orientated programming languages, SQL, JavaScript, web design, .net and so much more. To say the course was varied would be an understatement! This is one of the reasons I chose this course as you can specialise in any field of IT so to get skills in all of them helped me understand where I would like to focus my career.

 

What were the tutors and facilities like?

The tutors were great! Friendly and open to larger conversations. I was given the space and time to digest what was being taught and it wasn’t like a conveyor belt where information was just thrown at you. I had time to digest what was being taught.

Again, the facilities were great! I really liked the open study area and being able to continue to learn in the classroom after the lecture was always helpful!

 

What are you doing now as a career?

I am currently the Environments Manager for William Hill. My roles and responsibilities are to manage the test environments and ensure stability and availability of the environments. William Hill are an excellent employer and the opportunities for me to further my career have always been on the table.

As part of my role I get to travel between the UK and Poland. We currently have a lot of our development teams working out of Krakow, Poland and part of my role requires me to ensure that those teams are fully supported when working in our non-production environments. I usually go to Poland four times a year (pre-COVID-19) and I can honestly say the William Hill culture spreads from the UK to Poland.

 

 

How do you feel the college prepared you for work?

During my time at college we did courses in time management and working in teams. While these don’t seem related to IT studies, they were definitely relevant, and the skills learned helped me with my expectations of what a company would need from me.

 

Do you have any career highlights you’d like to share?

My career highlights have been achieving what I have at William Hill. I have moved through three roles since I started at William Hill (starting as an IT analyst) and they are very keen to see you develop and empower you to fulfil your potential.

 

Do you have any advice for people who may be considering a similar career path?

My advice would be to continue to learn, don’t stop and keep your eye on emerging technologies. Any opportunities for industry learning such as cloud services (AWS, Azure, GCP) is not only interesting but cheap to play around with and you can do some pretty amazing projects with little start-up costs (and I’m talking a few dollars!).

Also, I would say don’t be scared to approach companies that you have heard about and would like to work for! Being a self-starter and being keen to learn will always show the employer that you’re not only ready to start ‘a job’ but you’re focused on a career.

 

Do you have any advice for people who may be unsure about applying due to COVID-19?   

While COVID-19 wasn’t around when I was at college, what I would say is The City of Liverpool was always a safe and clean place to study. The canteen was always spotless and the rooms never dirty. I am sure the college has put extra precautions in place to keep students safe. Lastly, adopt as much learning at home as you can! With the use of technologies for remote learning, as an IT student it’s your gift to embrace technologies such as Teams or Zoom… or build your own!

 

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Paul for sharing his story and wish him all the best with his future career.

If you’re interested in a career in ICT, Computing or Systems Development, and would like to find out more about our courses, click here.