Bringing the ancient tale of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest up to date with the latest 5G technologies was one of the challenges lined up for computer science students at Vision West Nottinghamshire College during their industry week (22-26 March).

Students on the computer science programmes from Level 1 to Level 3 met with Nick Mellors from local business Innovation Nottinghamshire. Nick gave them an online challenge to bring their computer science skills to create a project centred around the ancient Sherwood Forest.

Each group was challenged to put together a presentation of how they feel they could bring their scientific skills to the forest to help retell the story of Robin Hood to future generations. Through his presentation, Nick suggested technologies using robotics, augmented and virtual reality, autonomous vehicles or nanotechnology could be used within their ideas to find ways to both protect and promote our world famous forest.

The challenge brought with it Amazon vouchers for the best ideas, which all needed to consider issues such as the protection of both wildlife and plant species, accessibility for all types of visitors, cost of the project in mind and how to overcome problems and hurdles.

The winning idea came courtesy of Level 1 Workskills students Connor Blades and Dylan Butler who presented their idea of a virtual reality drone race experience. The idea incorporated small, quiet drones which would fly over the park and scan for litter and any vandalism and alert members of staff.

Their idea also looked at the drones being able to look out for wildlife species in their habitats so that rangers could keep a check on their eating and lifestyle habits. Connor and Dylan each won £20 of vouchers for their concept.

Second prize went to Level 1 students Tyler Butler, Aleksis Zeiliss and Jake Mellor for their idea of creating augmented reality remote control cars. The cars would travel the forest using a 5G track taking photographs of augmented reality animals as the user moves the cars. The user gains points for gathering the images as they learn about the forest. They scooped £10 vouchers each.

Third prize went to Level 3 student Nicholas Wright for his i-arrow game. The i-arrow would electronically shoot a virtual arrow at various points around the forest trail. Each shot would trigger a story telling device recounting some of Robin’s famous steps and stories. Nicolas also won a £10 voucher for his idea.

Nick Mellors said: “The technologies that 5G enables are going to transform the way we can protect treasured spaces like Sherwood Forest and encourage people to take an interest in the natural heritage around them. I was really impressed with all the students’ presentations and the level of creativity and research that they put into their work.

“Even if some of the ideas could be too intrusive for parts of the nature reserve, they could certainly be adopted around the area to boost tourism and local businesses. I’m sharing the ideas with Nottinghamshire’s 5G Connected Forest project and the new Digital Innovation Centre in Worksop so we may well see some of these ideas coming to life in the future.”

Throughout the rest of the week students were able to speak to representatives online from universities such as The University of Lincoln, Nottingham Trent University and Staffordshire University. They were able to find out more about the next level of education within computer science and the choices of courses available to them.

Opportunities to speak with both lecturers in cyber security and support staff helped to allay any fears about university-level study as well as the facilities which each university offers to students.

The Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Collaborative Outreach Project (DANCOP) which has a base at West Nottinghamshire College provided students with three recorded sessions on Higher Education, the range of transferrable skills that they will have and a range of university myth busters.

Chairman of Mansfield-based Linney Group, Nick Linney, was available on a pre-recorded session for students to discover more about the business which has existed in Mansfield for over a hundred years.

The print and design company utilises some of the latest IT technologies at its offices and distribution centre off Southwell Road and regularly have a range of job vacancies available.

Tutors also arranged for the students to hear more about business ethics which was discussed by the college’s business studies coach as well as discovering more about employability skills and how apprenticeships work across the college for those who wish to pursue the apprenticeship route.

Students welcomed Brandon Louth and Stuart Harper who are digital apprentices at the college. They spoke in depth about the experience on the course, which combines studies and real-life work placement with the college’s IT team and how they deal with preventative work and IT maintenance.

Digital development coach Megan Davis said: “Throughout industry week our students were able to engage with external speakers from various destinations.

“Having a project at the beginning of the week really helped to get students engaged in thinking about what they want to do when they leave college.

“Completing work to meet a specific brief with such a short deadline gave them a chance to experience what work life is really like. I’m glad to say we had some real successes with the project.

“Being able to connect with universities live via Microsoft Teams also really opened the minds of some of the students who thought going to university might not be an option for them.”

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