SEG’s Aviation Lab the real deal

VirtualAerodrome 2
PROJECT RUNWAY: Republic Polytechnic’s new Virtual Aerodrome Lab revolutionises the PBL structure for students in the Diploma in Aviation Management. Injecting realism, interactivity and dynamism in lessons. Photo: Thaddeus Ng

It is like any other day in an air-conditioned classroom in RP – students have a problem to solve in the morning and they find out how by the end of the afternoon. Except that these Aviation Management students would have landed a plane in a thunderstorm – almost as if they were at Changi Airport.

But they are in what is known as the Virtual Aerodrome Lab (VAL), the first of its kind in a tertiary institution and the pride and joy of the School of Engineering (SEG). It was created in collaboration with ST Electronics and Changi Airport so that RP students can “work” out of a control tower with a 120-degree field of vision. The VAL was officially opened in December last year and was a big draw in last month’s Open House activities.

“It allows students to understand the design, the operations, and procedures of the airport before even having to step foot in it,” said Mr Daniel Kwek, Module Chair for Air Sight Operations and Air Traffic Management.

The students would spend the first and second meetings of the day planning for simulations, and actually carrying them out in the third meeting.

Mr Kwek explained how in that respect, the PBL experience was not very different from any other RP student. The exposure in the lab was holistic as could be seen in how realistic the weather conditions seemed. Students have to work closely together in teams and this is required in actual air traffic management.

Students taking this diploma will learn airport planning and design, air traffic management, airside and flight operations management, airport emergency preparedness and crisis simulation all from the comfort and safety of the lab. Second-year Aviation Management student Roderick Woo, 20, is glad for the chance to put into practice the theories his facilitators talk about. He said:“We got the chance to experience what it’s like to be an air traffic controller and we had to fly and land planes.”

Such an investment will pay off handsomely, because the aviation industry is set to create 6,300 jobs in the next few years.