NTNU and Norsk Hydro Founding the First VR Village

Published Dec 12, 2003
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Norsk Hydro has for a long time contributed towards education and building competence within petroleum research in Norway. Norsk Hydro’s motive has been to take a long-term view and secure future recruitment to the industry. It is especially important to motivate a new generation to choose an education within the oil and gas industry now that the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) is entering a mature stage.

NTNU has for a long time given lessons in the subject ‘Experts in Team’, where a group of as much as 30 people with different backgrounds is working on the same challenge. These challenges are organized in ‘villages’. During the spring term 2003 the Institute for Petroleum Technology and Applied Geophysics could offer a new village called ‘Virtual Reality Village’.

What is unique with the village concept is that it is focused on solving a specific problem. At the same time there are discussions on the nature of the interdisciplinary work. The students are working on various problems and at the same time focused on functioning well as a team. This is a situation they will encounter later in their professional lives.

Norsk Hydro and its Research Centre have since 1997 developed and used Virtual Reality for data analysis, interpretation and well planning within Exploration & Production. Norsk Hydro therefore found it natural to join as the external sponsor for the VR village.

Earlier Norsk Hydro and Norsk Forskningsråd (Norwegian Research Council) together sponsored the acquirement of the most advanced VR installation in Europe. 10th November 2001 the CLVR (Collaborative Learning Virtual Reality) was opened.

The VR installation at the Institute for Petroleum Technology and Applied Geophysics today consists of a 4 side projection RAVE (Reconfigurable Advanced Virtual Environment) from Fakespace, with passive stereo solution. The RAVE gets its graphic and processing resources from a very powerful SGI machine, an Onyx 2000.

Norsk Hydro gave the students access to several kinds of data from the Ormen Lange field which were to be used on relevant problems in connection with

  • Subsea installations and pipelines
  • Subsea topography
  • Pipelines and Risers
  • Reservoir development
  • Flow analysis

27 students from different disciplines but mostly from petroleum related subjects or computer science was divided into 5 groups. During the spring term the students and their tutors were invited to Norsk Hydro’s research centre at Bergen where they were given a presentation of Norsk Hydro’s development and application of Virtual Reality and its functionality. This was for many of the students their first meeting with reservoir geology and bore cores.

The five groups all solved their tasks admirably. By the end of term they could all present adequate VR applications. It was a considerable achievement, involving late nights as well as nocturnal work hours before all programs were operational and bug-free.

One of the requirements was that the program should be presentable to people with little or no background from the petroleum industry.

Norsk Hydro has also as a bonus, invited the group with the best visual solution to its stand at the EAGE conference in Stavanger this month. There the students get to present their solution and explain all the choices they made. To choose only one representative will be very difficult as all the groups delivered excellent work with a very high quality visual presentation.

We are convinced it will make for an exciting experience for all those visiting Norsk Hydro at Eage!

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