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See it, dream it

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Promoting construction industry careers to female high school students through virtual reality.

If you can see it, you can dream it and you can be it. It is that philosophy that has inspired the creation of a virtual reality construction site tool to open female students to the world of building and construction.

The recent release of a research paper from the 2019 International Women’s Day (IWD) Scholarship recipient, Dr Fiona Lamari, which presents an innovative approach to engaging with female high school students through a Virtual Construction Site (VCS) Tour. 

The IWD Scholarship has been awarded annually since 2009. A total of $220,000 has been invested into aiding research that improves, benefits and empowers women in the construction industry. It hopes to contribute to the conversation about an equal balance of women in the industry that will benefit everyone. 

Over the past 12 months, Dr Lamari, lecturer in construction management at Queensland university of Technology (QUT), has developed and rolled out the VCS Tour. The VCS Tour mimics a realistic building site and showcases the diversity of career options available in the construction industry. During the VCS Tour, students can look around a 360º view while hearing onsite professionals speaking as if spoken to on an actual construction site.

Dr Lamari’s aim is to use the technology to ultimately increase female participation in construction-related careers as well as bring construction sites to students in regional locations. At the completion of the project, Dr Lamari’s research findings concluded:

  • The VCS Tour experience had a positive impact on changing students’ perceptions that construction is a male-dominated career choice with a 34 per cent improvement and 40 per cent improvement for regional students;
  • Four out of five students believe they have an increased understanding of peoples’ roles in construction after the VCS Tour;
  • The VCS Tour experience increased students’ level of interest in the construction industry;
  • The VCS Tour experience triggered students’ interest in a construction career, with an 11 per cent increase in regional students; and
  • School teachers could see huge potential in using the VCS Tour as a teaching aid.

As a result of her VCS Tour and her research findings, Dr Lamari has made recommendations that will enable schools, universities and broader construction networks to better engage with female high school students to communicate the potential for a construction career, especially in the immersive technology space. This is turn will help lead to a more equitable industry where women fully participate.

Read about the success of women in our industry.

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