Sixth form students are using state-of-the-art technology skills to help create a visual walkthrough of the world’s first purpose-built centre of its kind for veterans.
Year 12 engineering students from Ron Dearing University Technology College (UTC) in Hull are learning how to use Autodesk Revit 3D building information modelling (BIM) software, used by leading architects, to assist in the creation of a virtual reality tour of the Hull 4 Heroes Veterans Village.
The Veterans Village is championed by TV celebrity Nick Knowles and aims to be a self-sustaining site providing transitional support for ex-service personnel and their families, creating a safe and stable environment to help them adjust to civilian life. It will include housing, training and support facilities, as well as a visitor centre for the wider community.
With the support of Hull City Council and East Riding Council, the Hull 4 Heroes charity has secured a 22-acre site next to Priory Road in Hull, extending into the boundaries of both authorities.
Seven Ron Dearing UTC students are currently involved in the project outside their usual school studies after completing their computer-aided design (CAD) unit to distinction level months ahead of schedule. More students are expected to join the team, working closely with Cleethorpes-based Hodson Architects and the Hull 4 Heroes team over the coming months.
Working with Hodson Architects, the students are using the architectural design drawings to bring the Veterans Village to life, enabling people to have a detailed view of the charity’s vision through virtual reality technology. The end product will be used to attract potential funders and investors, while also showcasing the project to other interested parties.
The students’ work illustrates the advanced tech skills developed by students at the employer-led school, which specialises in digital technology, creative digital and digital engineering and is supported by a host of leading businesses.
Glenn Jensen, head of engineering and employer-led projects at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “This is the first time our students have been involved a project like this, particularly at this level, and the skills and software they are using have been identified as critical in the architecture and building industries.
“This is another string to their bows and the skills they are learning are massively transferable to the careers they hope to progress to.
“It’s fantastic for learners of this age to contribute to a flagship project to help support the rehabilitation of veterans, which is so important and will change lives for the better.”
The Veterans Village is the brainchild of Hull 4 Heroes chairman Paul Matson, who founded the charity in 2016 following his own struggle after leaving the Army, and TV presenter Nick Knowles, with support from project manager and Hull 4 Heroes Trustee, Trevor Fishburn.
Inspired by the work on the BBC One’s popular DIY SOS programme, presented by Nick, and backed by a team of supporters and a local professional design team, the charity developed the idea to house and support those in need.
The Veterans Village will include 48 homes for individuals or families, which they can live in and access tailored support for up to two years. It is hoped this village will be the first of many and the model will help veterans transition back into civilian life for decades to come.
The Ron Dearing UTC students have been using their school layout to learn and practise their new-found software skills through virtual reality technology, by assessing any future structural changes required for the building, creating virtual furniture and bringing the reception area to life, before starting work on the Veterans Village.
Sixteen-year-old Josh Lake, a Year 12 student involved in the project, said: “It’s an amazing experience and I’m learning new skills for the future. The Veterans Village is a great idea and I’m really proud to be involved.”
Fellow Year 12 student Sam Malone, 17, said: “The software enables you to look at materials, change the shapes of buildings and create bespoke elements such as tables, doors and windows. It feels really good to be part of something which will help change lives.”
Paul said the students were the first of their age group to be involved in the project on this level.
He said: “Getting young people involved and drawing on their industry-level skills and inspiration is the best part of it. They are so intelligent and can bring more light to this project than ever before.
“It’s great to work together and it’s something the students can always be proud of. Of the Hull and East Riding population, 10% are veterans or are members of the veterans community. The Hull 4 Heroes Veterans Village will save countless lives and these students are playing their own part in that.”
Trevor, a former Royal Navy artificer (skilled mechanic) and weapons engineer, added: “This is the talent of today helping the veterans of yesterday. They are helping the community to grow while supporting veterans to adjust back into civilian life.”
Nick praised Ron Dearing UTC students for their contribution to the Hull 4 Heroes project, which he has championed.
He said: “It’s important to us at the charity to make sure when we build the village, it’s ecologically sound and that we are using cutting-edge technology, water management, eco power creation and building materials to provide the best possible environment in which our veterans can work, live and prosper.
“To have young people who are developing new skills every day involved from an early stage to further their abilities and represent our vision to the greater public and possible investors is both exciting and critical to the success of the venture.”
For more information about Hull 4 Heroes, visit hull4heroes.org.uk