Video Gaming Technology Comes to the Energy Industry

"The new buzzword is 'Gamification' and it really appeals to young people who have grown up playing video games" said Vic Cherubini, president of epic software.

THE WOODLANDS, TX - As baby boomers continue to retire, finding highly skilled energy industry workers to replace them will be a challenge for companies around the world.   Known as "The Great Crew Change", the objective will be to train new engineers and technicians as quickly and effectively as possible.  A report from Schlumberger Business Consulting projects a limited supply of graduates from "quality institutions" and that the energy sector will ultimately "see a loss of experience, if not a decline in overall numbers.”   
In order to bridge the gap, companies in the energy industry are turning to interactive tools and techniques to train  new recruits. These companies are experimenting with ways to tap into the power of video games to help both industry veterans and new employees learn to be productive in a safe and environmentally friendly way.   The epic software group of The Woodlands, Texas has developed an application using video gaming technology where you can move in any direction around a drill rig.  "The new buzzword is 'Gamification' and it really appeals to young people who have grown up playing video games" said Vic Cherubini, president of epic software.  
epic developed this application for HARC (Houston Advanced Research Center). Dr. Rich Haut is the Director of the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Program at HARC. He  heads up a team of researchers who helped the artists, animators and programmers at epic develop a 3D model of a drill rig.  Haut said, "Using your mouse and keypad, you can navigate through the rig to learn how it works and in the process, find a number of ways to drill in an environmentally responsible way."
As you move close to a piece of equipment, the sound gets louder.  If you see a monitor in the doghouse (i.e. the control room) with a video playing on it, just click it to watch a demo of that software in action.  Want to see the drill rig at night?  One click turns the scene from noon to midnight.  Best of all, if you see a roughneck working and walk past him, he will keep working.  Stop for more than four seconds and he will turn and tell you about his work on the rig.

If you want to try out the virtual rig for yourself, you will find it at: http://efdvirtualsite.org/
epic is now using this rig to develop a series of interactive training scenarios designed  to help new rig hands learn safety procedures. A small mistake can have major consequences on a rig, so this online simulator allows a student to make mistakes with no consequences (Figure 2).  

The student begins using the application in a “training mode”.  Here, they are guided through the rig and presented with step-by-step instructions on how to handle a scenario. After they feel comfortable that they understand the protocol, the student can then use the “testing mode” to demonstrate their ability to handle the situation. These types of simulated training environments are almost second nature to a generation of young people who grew up playing video games. And they are only going to get better. Cherubini and his team are now awaiting the arrival of the Oculus Rift, a 3D virtual reality headset that allows a student to manipulate virtual objects and experience whatever they're studying firsthand.  According to Cherubini, "This is a game changer for those trying to understand the technical nature of how things work."
Cherubini went onto say "As the competition for human resources heats up, those companies that have tried and succeeded in using these new technologies will find they have a competitive advantage over those using PowerPoint slide shows in a traditional classroom setting."  

For Additional Information contact:
epic software group, inc
701 Sawdust Road
The Woodlands, TX   77380

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