Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) programs assist in preparing work-ready graduates. The challenge is industries are shrinking and most students cannot find placement for WIL and end up wait for months if not years before graduating. The advent of 4IR provides alternative avenues for imparting workplace-based experience using simulated environments such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

Nokulunga Dlamini, an Industrial Engineering postgraduate student conceptualized an Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE) for training on the use of Dr. Sibande’s invention of a dual-function, cutting and bending machine, called a Reconfigurable Guillotine Shear and Bending Press Machine (RGS&BPM). The IVE teaches implementation of the 5S principle as well as how to cut and bend four automotive parts. Ovi Mphephu and Modiba Rangongo from the X-Reality Lab built the IVE which was later workshopped by over 100 Engineering students from the TUT Pretoria West and Emalahleni Campuses in September 2022, where feedback was gathered to determine areas of improvement and inform Lunga’s Masters’ study. The workshop familiarized students with VR-based systems and the career pathways it emerged with as they got to engage Developers from the X-Reality Lab.  The research project was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF), South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARCHI), and Future Transport Manufacturing Technologies (FTMT) as part of the University’s continued pledge to revive the transport manufacturing sector through appropriate, cutting-edge research & development.

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