Imagine walking into a house full of natural gas for the first time.
It's up to you to make the situation safe, to protect property and life – including your own. Your heart's pumping and you know everyone is depending on you to work safely as you have been trained.
Then, the virtual reality headset comes off, and you're back – in the safe confines of your training class.
This kind of safety training could be made possible thanks to a new partnership between NiSource and the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation at Purdue University Northwest in Hammond, Indiana.
NiSource recently granted $100,000 to the well-respected Center to jumpstart development of training programs with virtual reality built in to them. It's another example of our commitment to the latest technology and techniques to lower risk for employees.
Purdue's researchers will work on simulations that cover different aspects of the gas and electric businesses, with the main goal of preparing employees and first responders for the high-impact situations they may face. The key simulation focus areas at this time are responding to natural gas emergencies, work zone safety and arc flash prevention training.
“Virtual reality is already being utilized in several industries to provide state-of-the-art training experiences," said Dave Monte, senior vice president, safety, environmental, engineering and training.
The partnership builds on our relationship with Purdue, which in addition to assisting with recent simulations at our electric generation facilities, is the proud alma mater of many of our employees.
Mike Hooper, senior vice president of electric operations, said he's looking forward to working more closely with the university.
“We're always looking for ways to further increase safety for our employees and customers, and our partnership with Purdue is an innovative way to do that," he said.