In a ground breaking new partnership, Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) and the College of the North Atlantic – Qatar (CNA-Q) have agreed to undertake research into the use of Augmented Reality for training oil and gas sector students.

Augmented Reality (AR) allows multiple types of information to be superimposed over what we see in the real world through tablets, phones or glasses. With AR, instructions or processes to perform tasks can be displayed visually, rather than having to read through a manual and can greatly reduce time needed for task completion and human error.

Vice Chairman and CEO of QAPCO, Dr Mohammed Yousef Al Mulla, described this new technology as remarkable stating:

In conjunction with CNA-Q, we wish to investigate the potential of Augmented Reality to better prepare industrial trainees for the tasks and environments in which they will be working in industry. We believe that Augmented Reality can increase the level of critical competencies needed for employment, such as a technician in Qatar’s oil and gas sector. We are first adopters in the use of augmented reality training and performance support solutions in the Oil and Gas sector in Qatar and in the GCC region and are excited about this new technology as QAPCO would benefit from a better prepared trainee workforce and from exposure to performance support and training solutions that could potentially be integrated into its our own workplace training programmes.’

QAPCO has grown to be recognised as one of the largest producers of low density polyethylene (LDPE) in the Middle East. The company produces a wide range of LDPE grades suitable to all thermoplastics processing techniques with various applications, such as packaging films, agricultural films, extrusion and coating lamination films, high-clarity films, injection molding, cables, wires, foam and other products that are widely used all over the world and touching everyone’s daily life.

QAPCO was established in 1974 as a joint multinational venture by Industries Qatar (IQ) with 80% share and Total Petrochemicals France with 20% share to utilise the associated and non-associated ethane gases from petroleum production in line with the industrialisation plan of Qatar.

President of CNA-Q, Dr Ken MacLeod, thanked Dr Al Mulla for his support with this project and described the potential benefits by saying:

This project will have a number of benefits for all stakeholders – CNA-Q, QAPCO and, most importantly, our students. CNA-Q will gain a better understanding of the potential for AR-based training and its application in our blended learning solutions.  As a result, Qatari students will benefit from an enhanced, 21st century learning experience that is not only completely safe, but taps into their preferred learning style and is more engaging and motivational. Additionally, because we will be developing Augmented Reality learning objects that are customised to QAPCO’s equipment and procedures, QAPCO technician trainees will be better prepared for their careers in the oil and gas sector.’

The research project would involve the identification of approximately three to five critical tasks commonly performed on one piece of equipment by entry-level technicians at CNA-Q. Customised augmented reality learning objects would then be developed that support competency in performing those tasks. The learning objects would then be tested using volunteer students from CNA-Q’s Engineering Technology and Technical Preparatory Programs. In this stage, qualitative data would be collected from learners to determine attitudes towards training using augmented reality-based learning objects.

CNA-Q is Qatar’s premier comprehensive technical college and one of Qatar’s largest post-secondary institutions. It opened in September 2002 through an agreement between Qatar and College of the North Atlantic, Canada, combining a Canadian curriculum and industry expertise in four programme areas.