Simulating the future opens global planning careers

16 Apr 2018
3D model of Woolloongabba that students learned to build for their design project

Simulating the future for suburban West End, Yeerongpilly and Woolloongabba is just part of the new immersive learning environment experienced by Regional and Town Planning students at The University of Queensland.

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences researcher Associate Professor Yan Liu said as 3D modelling and simulation technology became  the norm in the global planning  and building development sectors, it was important students became experts in using these  tools to enhance their spatial skills and prepare for their future careers.

As a way to address this, Dr Liu and colleagues Dr Sebastien Darchen (UQ) and Dr Derlie Mateo-Babiano (formerly UQ, now University of Melbourne) have created the first  sequential learning curriculum ever to be used in urban planning and spatial science education.

“In their first year, students are introduced to geographical information systems (GIS) technologies and applications, and in second and third year they build on these skills in courses in Urban Design and Plan Making,” she said.

“In these courses students learn to use ESRI’s CityEngine, an industry-standard software to develop 3D city models.

“This enables them to visualise, design, plan, assess and communicate solutions for existing and new developments.”

Dr Liu said Brisbane City Council was using Virtual Brisbane, a computer-generated 3D model for strategic planning, development assessment and community engagement, and Singapore is launching Virtual Singapore, a 3D replicate in 2018.

She said most students were enthusiastic about this new learning opportunity to hone their spatial skills, particularly as they recognised the importance of spatial skills for their professional development.