NAWIC using VR to engage female high school students in construction industry

Dr Fiona Lamari

New research from the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) proposes the use of a Virtual Construction Site (VCS) Tour to engage female high school students with the industry.

The research paper written by the 2019 International Women’s Day (IWD) Scholarship recipient, Dr Fiona Lamari. 

Over the past 12 months, Dr Lamari, Lecturer in Construction Management at QUT, has developed and rolled out a VCS Tour. The VCS Tour mimics a realistic building site and showcases the diversity of career options available in the construction industry. 

During the VCS Tour, students can look around in 360º while hearing onsite professionals as if spoken to on an actual construction site.

The VCS Tour brings construction sites to students, in particular those in regional locations, and is the first of its kind to be used in this way. Dr Lamari’s aim is to use the technology to ultimately increase female participation in construction-related careers. 

At the completion of the project, Dr Lamari’s research findings concluded:

  • The VCS Tour experience had a positive impact on changing students’ perceptions that construction is a male-dominated career choice, with a 34 per cent improvement and 40 per cent improvement for regional students
  • Four out of five students believe they have an increased understanding of peoples’ roles in construction after the VCS Tour
  • The VCS Tour experience increased students’ level of interest in the construction industry
  • The VCS Tour experience triggered students’ interest in a construction career, with an 11 per cent increase in regional students
  • School teachers could see huge potential in using the VCS Tour as a teaching aid

The NAWIC International Women’s Day (IWD) Scholarship has been awarded annually since 2009.

Thanks to the support of its long-term sponsor CULT, NAWIC has invested a total of $220,000 to aid research that improves, benefits and empowers women in the construction industry.

NAWIC thanked Dr Lamari for her work as the 2019 NAWIC IWD Scholarship Winner. 

As a result of her VCS Tour and her research findings, Dr Lamari has made recommendations that will enable schools, universities and broader construction networks to better engage with female high school students to communicate the potential for a construction career, especially in the immersive technology space. 

This in turn will help lead to a more equitable industry where women fully participate.

Download a full copy of the report, Engagement with Regional School Students Through Virtual Construction Site Tour – An Immersive Experience, here.

The paper’s release coincides with the announcement of the 2020 NAWIC IWD Scholarship winner. View the winner of 2020 Scholarship here.

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