MTU apprentices develop virtual reality shop tour
Apprentices at MTU Maintenance Hannover have created an interactive 360° tour of the facility—advancing their initiative, creativity and innovative prowess in the process.
12.2020 | Text: Nicole Geffert
Nicole Geffert has been working as a freelance journalist covering topics such as research and science, money and taxes, and education and careers since 1999.
It’s now possible to explore MTU Maintenance Hannover in virtual reality (VR): visitors simply put on a futuristic VR headset and then off they go on an interactive tour of discovery taking in the engine maintenance stations, the warehouse and the training shop. The digital tool is the result of a project by MTU apprentices Falk Bader, Tom Bode, Daniel Schlawitz and Alexander Kühn. In just three months, the creative team developed a virtual 360° shop tour.
“It was a big leap in the dark,” says team spokesman Falk Bader, a budding aircraft maintenance engineer at MTU Maintenance Hannover. “This project has given us some completely new experiences.” The challenge wasn’t the VR technology, he says. “We’d all already experimented with VR goggles in our spare time. It was the whole project management aspect that was new to us—from developing the concept to presenting the finished product.”
Intensive course in project management
Every cohort of MTU apprentices must complete a project in their second year. They work in teams to show their initiative, get creative and come up with something new. “Nobody at MTU had ever designed a virtual shop tour before,” says Christian Weinsheimer, senior trainer at MTU Maintenance Hannover, who had the idea for the project. In the future, the company will be able to use VR headsets to present stations and processes in the shop at trade fairs or in schools, to help people gain a deeper understanding of the engine maintenance world.
At the start of the project, the apprentices took an intensive course in project management. “We held regular meetings to set goals for the week, assign tasks and discuss our interim results,” Bode says. First of all, they had to come up with a coherent concept for the tour. Which stations in the shop should it present? Infotexts had to be created and coordinated.
Virtual 360° shop tour: In just three months the MTU apprentices Falk Bader, Tom Bode, Daniel Schlawitz and Alexander Kühn developed a virtual reality shop tour.
Against a ticking clock
“This was the first time in our apprenticeship that we’d worked with an external agency,” Bader says. It was the agency’s job to take photos in the shop with a VR camera and turn them into a 360° tour. Designed to run on a PC through a VR headset, the tour immediately immerses visitors in the virtual world of engine repair. The apprentices lined transport cases for the VR headsets and other equipment with foam and wired them up so that the chargers can be activated inside the case to charge the headset batteries.
It was a challenging project and a race against the clock. Bader says: “At the beginning, we had no idea that we would have to pay attention to so many details in order to successfully execute a project like this. Time was running out toward the end, but we made it!” MTU Maintenance Hannover management was also very pleased with the outcome. For the apprentices, this project proved to be a positive experience: “We never imagined the tour would be so realistic. It’s a really cool result.”