Many organizations are turning to virtual simulators to create realistic training scenarios and, in the process, help employees refine their skills and learn best practices. From computerized flight simulators for pilots to simulators that give healthcare professionals opportunities to practice lifesaving skills, the technology is proving to be a great benefit for a wide range of industries.
Take Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), which recently opened a new training facility in Winters, California. There, employees get access to heavy equipment simulators, virtual learning, and education on safety protocols.
At the new Gas Safety Academy, employees will learn “to operate and maintain every aspect of PG&E’s natural gas infrastructure,” the company explained. The facility features three main buildings on 30 acres and creates realistic conditions for emergency response and leak detection training” in a “model neighborhood,” which includes 15 small homes.
PG&E expects to provide close to 36,000 hours of training annually there and to offer training to about 150 gas employees on a weekly basis. The curriculum and field training will address a variety of topics, such as “gas transmission and distribution pipelines, meter maintenance, heavy equipment operation, welding, pressure control, customer service, gas appliance operation, excavation, and education on safety standards and protocols,” the company stated.
In a simulation room, trainees will “gain near-real-life experience on trucks and excavation machinery used in the field,” PG&E explained. In addition, apprentice welders in the company’s 3-year welding apprenticeship program will receive formal training in a welding lab for 2 weeks during each year of the program. Plus, a “state-of-the-art lab” will provide hands-on training to employees on “regulating and monitoring the pressure and flow of natural gas.”
PG&E President and Chief Operating Officer Nick Stavropoulos said the new facility is an example of the company’s “unwavering safety commitment” to its employees and customers.
A new simulation and education center at Providence-Providence Park Hospital in Southfield, Michigan, provides medical students, residents, and other healthcare professionals with cutting-edge training as well.
“This center supplements the hands-on training our students receive during supervised direct patient care and provides a safe environment where they can develop advanced skills critical to starting residency training,” said Heidi Chumley, MD, MBA, executive dean and chief academic officer at American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), which provided lead financial support for the center.
“The new 6,800-square-foot simulation and education center features a procedural skills training room equipped with high-fidelity simulation models, a virtual reality surgical skills training room, a simulation operating room, and private rooms to simulate patient meetings,” AUC explains on its website (aucmed.edu). “The center also hosts collaborative learning spaces where interdisciplinary health teams can participate in workshops, practice their clinical skills, and reflect on their performance following a simulated scenario.”
Also, 20 organizations, including major universities and national laboratories, are using a nuclear power plant simulation platform from GSE Systems, Inc. (www.gses.com), for education and research.
The Generic Pressurized Water Reactor (GPWR®) simulation platform “is configured to represent a fully functional nuclear power plant,” according to the company. “Educational institutions use GSE’s GPWR for a variety of activities, including advanced education in nuclear, mechanical, electrical and instrumentation and controls engineering. The platform provides a detailed analysis of nuclear plant phenomena, as well as a realistic laboratory environment to reinforce concepts discussed in the
If your organization is using simulators for training, identify up front what goals you want to accomplish, make sure the platform you choose will help you achieve those goals and objectives, and measure for success after training.