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UBC researchers develop climate change video game for classroom use

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A team of University of British Columbia researchers is creating a video game where Vancouver high school students can experience how their individual choices can minimize the effects of climate change.

The game, called Our Future Community, would allow players in a virtual reality recreation of Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood to make choices affecting their immediate environment such as where to place solar panels, the number of electric vehicles to add, and how to retrofit homes.

The goal is that players would see how those actions affect carbon emissions in the neighbourhood.

The game builds on the success of the Future Delta video game, which was developed more than two years ago by a team of researchers from UBC’s Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP).

The team is made up of experts in sustainable landscape planning, educational outreach and game development from the faculties of forestry, and creative and critical studies.

Deepti Mathew Iype, a research scientist at CALP, says the newest game version is better suited to being used in classrooms because it can be played in a shorter timeframe.

The original Future Delta game was only playable on a desktop computer and was set in a dystopic future ravaged by overpopulation, food shortages and pollution.

The three-hour game began when players travelled back in time to 2015 in a bid to minimize the impacts of climate change.

The newer version can be played on a smart phone as well as a desktop, which Mathew Iype says makes it more accessible to students.

The Our Future Community video game lets players make changes at the individual, the community or the government level. (UBC Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning)

Students can embark on three different quests. The first shows them the effect of their actions as individuals, while the second has them take action at the community level.

At the third level, players get to see how actions at the policy and government level play out for their neighbourhood.

“The idea is that with each quest, you promote your learning and your understanding of how everything fits into the big picture,” says Mathew Iype.

A co-design process with teachers

The UBC researchers are currently in the development phase of the game and are working with teachers from three Vancouver high schools.

Mathew Iype says this co-design is meant to ensure the game takes into account what a teacher would want from it in the classroom.

The researchers are hosting a workshop on Jan. 28 at Kitsilano Secondary to give Vancouver School Board teachers an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the video game and other interactive educational programs on climate change.

Researchers hope to have a beta version ready to be tested in classrooms in September.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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