Jian is a student on the BSc (Hons) Psychology course at Bath.
Coming together for a common goal
When I applied for my three-year Psychology course, I wasn’t aware just how many people go on placement, getting valuable experience working with people from different universities, courses, and countries. Happily, this is also the case with VIPs. Vertically Integrated Projects (VIPs) bring Bath students together from across all years and disciplines.
The VIP I chose was ‘Creating Immersive Training Experiences in Virtual Reality’. We’re working with a national charity to develop a virtual reality (VR) app that trains people to respond if they see sexual harassment. The immersive software lets volunteers observe animated characters and put theory into practice in a controlled virtual environment where no one’s actually being harassed.
Setting up the project and team
When I joined, it was a completely new VIP. The staff lead, Computer Science lecturer Ken Cameron, simply wanted to experiment with a training program of our creation in VR. I remember the first few weeks as simultaneously trying to decide on what our training program would be and what our teams would look like.
With the help of my co-lead, we worked over the summer to set the groundwork for the academic year. We created a team structure and networked and recruited to have sufficient numbers of the right students. We also planned a long-term timeline with the help of the support network of PhD students and charities.
Developing key skills
The project has given me insight into working across disciplines and fields of knowledge with people with vastly different roles. You think about team dynamics but in a low-risk way, so you’re free to try new strategies to bring everyone together. A VIP’s scope is as far as you’re willing to take it.
My VIP has given me extra validation to feel comfortable speaking to world-renowned experts about subjects that, a year ago, I knew nothing about, and even to ask them for help - a rare opportunity, even at many companies, I suspect.
The value of getting involved
I entered university somewhat intimidated, as I think many freshers do. The VIP has put me in contact with master's and PhD students and experienced staff who I previously looked up to in awe. Now I look up to them in respect, but also see them as people. I’ve learnt that if you have an interesting idea that could go somewhere, there is likely to be someone willing to have a chat with you about that idea.