Home' Link : Learn Issue No. 1 Contents Flying high
In an example of cross-disciplinary interaction,
CQUniversity drama students get to practise their
acting skills as they help budding pilots in the aviation
department use simulation technology. "I use the Microsoft
aviation simulator in class and then I also use live bodies,"
says aviation senior lecturer Ron Bishop.
"An aviation student that's having engine problems
has to land the plane and he'll have four or five non-
aviation students asking him questions, trying to have a
conversation with him."
Bishop says it is crucial for trainee pilots to be tested in
the event of issues such as a fuel shortage, landing gear
malfunctions or structural problems. It teaches them
all-important risk-management strategies when flying
"Back in the old days it was all about flying skills, but
nowadays it's more about managing the systems because
really the plane will land itself, it'll take off itself, it'll
cruise itself, and the human needs to be part of that system
to be able to identify what's really going on."
While the Microsoft Simulator X has been used in the
aviation industry for some time and may not match the
high-tech equipment available to the paramedic and
medical imaging students at CQUniversity, Bishop says it is
as useful as the multi-million-dollar simulator he used as
an aviator in the US Air Force.
"They'll get the flying practical across at the flight
schools, but what we're really looking for is matching the
theory of what's really going on with what they need to do
to get the plane either back on the ground or keep flying.
"Simulation is the way to go and the reason is that I
can simulate a fuel leak, I can simulate all the equipment
shutting down -- and the worst thing that can happen is
(that) you bump your knees on the desk or you fall out of
Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and
Midwifery, Melanie Birks is confident looming simulation
technology will also transform the nursing department at
CQUniversity. Construction of a new simulation laboratory
and patient ward is under way at the University's Noosa
Birks, who recently visited the Trinitas School of Nursing
in New Jersey to assess simulation-based learning programs
in the US, believes it is essential for nursing students to use
simulation exercises during their studies. "Hospitals want
graduates who can pull it all together," she says.
As with paramedic training, life-like mannequins are
an important part of simulation training for nurses. While
some are not as hi-tech as the aforementioned SimMan,
Dr Birks says a range of low- to hi-tech mannequins used
in courses is still a crucial aid in educating students. "The
simple mannequins give students a fundamental skill-set
that is critical no matter where they are working, even if it
means just being comfortable around a patient and being
able to develop their skills in communication."
While different departments at CQUniversity have
diverse types of simulation tools and technology on offer
for students, there is a common thread -- they better qualify
students to respond effectively when lives are at risk.
In the paramedic department, Weber says simulations are
an effective alternative as clinical placements for students
are becoming increasingly limited. They also allow students
to practise techniques over and over, making them more
capable when they do venture out into clinical practice.
While the SimMan is a valuable tool, it is not used in
isolation at CQUniversity. Students practise in a lab where they
are filmed using an advanced video system, allowing their
peers to watch and critique how they handle emergencies.
"...I can simulate a fuel
leak, I can simulate all
the equipment shutting
down -- and the worst
thing that can happen
is (that) you bump
your knees on the
desk or you fall out of
your chair." -- Ron Bishop,
senior lecturer in Aviation at
Learn: Cover story
Min Ku from the Australian Institute of Radiography (second from
left) is pictured inspecting the CT Kyoto phantom, with CQUniversity
academics Kelly Spuur, Cynthia Cowling and Caroline Falconi
10 | Learn
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