Archived — 3D skills training soaring to new heights

Tim Hayes, a software engineer at NGRAIN in Vancouver, conducts a demonstration of the company's 3D software.

Tim Hayes, a software engineer at NGRAIN in Vancouver, conducts a demonstration of the company's 3D software.

Industry Canada, through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI), recently provided Vancouver-based NGRAIN (Canada) Corporation with a repayable contribution of $9.5 million to support research and development related to 3D technologies that will be used to train and assist aerospace and defence personnel working on complex equipment. "With the right investments at the right time, we are able to take ideas from design to delivery," remarked the Honourable Christian Paradis, former Minister of Industry.

The contribution will support the creation of new software providing aerospace and defence personnel with unparalleled hands-on learning. "NGRAIN's interactive 3D software allows users unlimited opportunities to interact with complex and costly systems anywhere, anytime and on any device—even using augmented reality," stated Gabe Batstone, NGRAIN's Chief Executive Officer.

Collaborating to develop advanced visualization

The project's main objective is to develop interactive 3D simulation software to be used in aerospace and defence programs. The software will be able to generate 3D models with much less computing power. It will also include new features to make the learning experience more accessible and realistic. These advancements may then be adapted to serve in other fields such as automotive production, civil aviation, nuclear power, oil and gas, and medicine.

No matter the field, interactive 3D content allows trainees to experience the behaviours and qualities that spatial context and situational awareness bring, which results in more effective learning. NGRAIN reports that interactive 3D training modules have already resulted in 60 percent faster learning and improved comprehension. This improvement in personnel performance has, in turn, led to 25 percent less downtime.

NGRAIN has already established R&D partnerships with Canadian universities including the University of Toronto (scanning technology), the University of British Columbia (augmented reality), Simon Fraser University (visual analytics), Carleton University (advanced visualization) and the University of Alberta (3D photo extraction). A Canadian post-secondary student has already been offered a work assignment to develop software, and more students are expected to enrol before the program wraps up in March 2019. The company has committed to spending well over $200,000 on collaborative activities with post-secondary institutions.

Through Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government of Canada committed long-term, stable funding of close to $1 billion over five years for SADI. For companies interested in the program, information for applicants is available on the SADI site.

Related: Government of Canada Invests in Montréal Aerospace and Defence Firm

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