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World’s first quarry built in cyberspace

A 62,000 sq m quarry is currently being developed at the heart of the University of Derby’s main campus to help prepare industry trainees of the future.

However, there is not a physical rock face or a material stockpile in sight – because the quarry is being created within the virtual-reality platform Second Life.

The unique £20,000 project marks the latest development in an increasingly productive partnership between the University, the industry and the Institute of Quarrying.


Initial work on the project began in July 2008 and the virtual quarry is due to be officially launched in October 2009.

The unique advantage of the virtual-reality quarry is that students can test their knowledge and skills in a highly realistic but entirely risk-free environment.

It is expected that a full programme of training options will be offered, including assessing students’ ability to manage a range of different tasks such as quarry blasts and assessing the stability of rock faces.

‘Over the next few years we anticipate increasing use of virtual-world technology to allow student interactions with environments that would be too costly, dangerous or even impossible to achieve in real life, said the University’s E-learning development manager, Peter Radcliff.

‘We believe that, in this way, the virtual quarry is one of the most ambitious uses so far of the virtual-world technology Second Life.’

The first cohorts of students to have studied on the University’s new industry diplomas in quarry and asphalt technology collected their awards in January 2009. Current students are set to use the new Second Life facilities as part of their studies from September.


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