Deakin and Melbourne Water blow industry out of the water at the 2021 Australian Water Awards

Research news

17 May 2021

A world-first Deakin-Melbourne Water simulator has received national recognition in the 2021 Australian Water Awards.

Deakin's CADET Virtual Reality Training and Simulation Research Lab and Melbourne Water scored the Water Industry Safety Excellence Award at the 2021 Australian Water Awards for their pioneering Virtual Reality Confined Space Entry (CSE) Simulator.

Led by Associate Professor Ben Horan (Director of the Lab), his team, and Scott McMillan (Manager, SHEQ Technology and Innovation at Melbourne Water), the world first-simulator digitally transports participants into a live sewer, smells included. The simulator provides a 'real world' learning environment for Melbourne Water staff and contractors who regularly enter confined spaces like sewers to conduct maintenance and repairs.

The simulation uniquely combines a treadmill, harness, winch and virtual reality alongside real equipment and smells to create a fully immersive and multisensory training program, allowing for precision planning in dangerous environments.

The first of its kind, the simulator holds massive potential on a large scale across not only the water industry, but for oil, gas, mining, and other high-risk professions.

"What we have achieved with the simulator is a new platform enabling interaction with virtual reality environments in ways not previously possible. It just goes to show the great things you can achieve with these types of industry-University partnerships with great partners like Melbourne Water," A/Prof Ben Horan said.

Melbourne Water Managing Director Michael Wandmaker said winning a national award was important recognition from the industry.

"We aspire to be industry leaders in innovation, safety, equality and diversity. I'm proud of our staff involved in these projects. This recognition of their ground-breaking work is well deserved," Mr Wandmaker said.

The national winners were announced at the OzWater'21 Gala Dinner in Adelaide during early May.

The Australian Water Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals and organisations for their contribution to the water sector and the communities in which they serve. Nominees are acknowledged for leading and inspiring positive change in the sector and helping to drive a sustainable water future.

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