Student award used for offshore safety research

Along with supervisors Drs. Scott MacKinnon, a professor in Human Kinetics and Recreation, and Brian Veitch from the Faculty of Engineering, Andrew’s research will evaluate just how much newly hired offshore workers learn when they’re trained on a virtual emergency response simulator.

In a province that relies on the productivity and growth of the offshore oil and gas sector, Andrew believes that this research and the offshore oil-platform desktop based simulator, called AVERT, can significantly impact the level of safety of the men and women who work in the oil and gas sector; better preparing them for the challenging environment. “If in some shape or form my research can contribute the well-being of our friends and family who work in our harsh offshore environments, then I will have no doubt that the research was both important and worthwhile,” says Andrew.

Workers who are unfamiliar with an offshore vessel will take part in several training sessions using the simulation trainer, learning to navigate the virtual vessel while also learning onboard procedures and tasks. It’s a first-person-shooter style set-up where the trainee uses a handheld controller to navigate the vessel and carry out tasks related to both on board work and emergency abandonment procedures.

Trainees will also perform field tests aboard the offshore vessel, navigating the ship via specified roots, while performing onboard procedures. They are then evaluated on their navigation efficiency, degree of situational awareness, as well as their safety and proficiency.

“It’s hoped that individuals who receive simulator training will be more proficient in navigation and task execution than new workers who didn’t take part in simulator training. This would indicate that the skills learned during simulation training are transferable to real world scenarios and training with the simulator could potentially reduce existing yellow hat training time onboard installations,” adds Andrew.

The master of science candidate has been awarded $33,333 from RDC’s Ocean Industries Student Research Awards (OISRA) program along with a corresponding $5,000 research supervisor award. The project is due to start early in 2014, with results targeted for June.