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WB GAMeGames, Animation and VFX students at St Helens College looked to the stars as they recently presented their work to a panel of space professionals, including Brad "Buddy" Gersey, Lead Research Scientist at the NASA funded Center for Radiation Engineering and Science for Space Exploration.

This out of this world opportunity came at the end of a week of remote work experience organised by NextGen Skills Academy and educational charity 4wardFutures. Taking the dream of space colonisation as inspiration, students worked in college as micro-creative studios to research and design their own vision of what it means to create a sustainable society on Mars, before delivering either:

  • A presentation using VFX, animation and 3D modelling to promote the colonisation of Mars to its early settlers.
  • A simulation game to help prepare early colonists to build a sustainable Mars settlement.

The student groups were coached throughout the week by a roster of Games, Animation, VFX, and Space industry professionals from leading employers such as Union VFX, Creative Assembly and Space Specialists. Bringing real industry engagement directly to students, they joined online calls to offer feedback, advice, and inspiration as they refined their work before presenting it to a panel of space experts.

Rob Hinde, Next Gen Course Leader at St.Helens said of the experience:

“ Working as part of small teams, exploring project management techniques and undertaking daily feedback sessions with specialists from the games and space industries has been highly motivational and inspirational for the first year class that undertook this project. By working with the course tutors, the projects student leader and with industry input, St.Helens has been awarded ‘best of the week’ against a number of other colleges taking part for our RTS base building concept.”

Mark Waters, Head of Research and of Programme Development at 4wardFutures, said:

“Through working on our 3D Space Design challenge, we hoped that in addition to the experience of working as part of a team on an industry set design brief, students would gain an insight into how their skills and qualities in 3D visualisation, VFX production and animation are in high demand across many sectors, such as the space industry.

“Spending time with the NextGen students as they presented their work was one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences I have had. The NextGen students totally exceed our expectations, with some amazing work and a clear demonstration of the personal qualities that are so important in the workplace.”

Marcia Deakin, Games Partnership Director at NextGen Skills Academy, said:

“This has been such a fantastic and inspiring project to be involved with. The students were so engaged, and the work produced was to a really high standard. Remote working has become a reality over the last year, with all challenges it entails. The creative industries have been able to adapt their working practises quickly and, in many cases, thrive during Covid due to remote working. This practice is set to continue once there is a return to studios.  Therefore, it is increasingly valuable for students to learn these skills, and this project shows that these placements can be incredibly meaningful and impactful for students preparing for the next stages of their careers.”

Games, videos, and assets created during the week will be used by 4wardFutures for their educational outreach work promoting the range of exciting career opportunities within the new technology and space industries. You can see some of the students work showcased by NextGen here: 4wardFutures / NextGen Remote Work Experience 2021 on Vimeo

All 150+ students that took part in the work experience from 7 colleges are studying the NextGen AIM Qualifications Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills. The NextGen course is the proven way to get into the digital creative skills pipeline, find out more information on your local course here: NextGen at St Helens College.

Why study Games, Animation and VFX with us?

Industry Experts

Our lecturers have industry experience, including working on AAA game titles.

Employer Links

We have strong employer links with the games industry in the Northwest.

Latest Industry Software

You will use the latest industry standard software such as MudBox, Unreal Engine and Autodesk. 

Excellent Progression

Excellent progression from the level 3 course to degree level study at University Centre St Helens.

Live Briefs and Projects

Work on live briefs and projects with professional clients in the industry. 

Diverse Range of Skills

Develop a wide range of skills from digital painting and 3D modelling to character design.