NextGen students are going to Mars for a week of virtual work experience with 4wardFutures

The dream of colonising Mars has fascinated generations of space explorers, with public space agencies and private corporations all looking to the red planet as a possible destination for human settlers, alongside numerous visualisations of colonisation in science fiction writing, film, and art.

Taking this dream as inspiration, NextGen students are being transported to Mars for a week of virtual work experience with educational charity 4wardFutures. Working in groups as micro creative studios, students will be tasked with researching and designing their own vision of what it means to create a sustainable society on Mars, before delivering either:

• A 1-minute visual presentation using VFX, animation and 3D modelling to promote the colonisation of Mars to its early settlers, highlighting how the early settlers will have the unique opportunity to be part of the creation of a new self-sustaining Mars society.

• A plan and pitch for a simulation game to help educate and prepare early colonists to overcome challenges and build a sustainable Mars settlement.

Students will have one week from the 19th April to complete their chosen brief. These assets will be used for real-life projects hosted by 4wardFutures that promote the range of exciting career opportunities within the new technology and space industries.

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

“Working with NextGen Skills Academy and their partner colleges on this virtual work experience programme will give us the opportunity to raise the awareness for their students of the expanding range of career and progression opportunities that are opening up across not only the games industry, but all industrial and design sectors for young people with 3D visualisation, VFX and game design skills.
“A 2019 report by Burning Glass Technologies and Epic Games reported that the use of 3D graphics and animation through applications such as Unreal Engine, have become essential to understanding designs and concepts in industries as diverse as architecture, manufacturing, health care, and film. In the last few years, the explosion of virtual reality technology has shifted the paradigm from observation to experience and advanced 3D technology has demonstrated the potential of this virtual world.
“It is this potential and paradigm shift in the applications of advanced 3D technology across sectors such as space, engineering, and industrial design that we wish to share with the young people taking part in this work experience programme.”

Sam Webster, Operations Manager at NextGen, said:

“We’re really excited about working with 4wardFutures and seeing how the students get on with working to their briefs, what creative ideas they come up with, and the work they deliver to deadlines.
“There’s a lot to think about and research in these briefs, for example, how will do they envision the developing the legal, economic, political, and ethical foundations of the new Mars society; a society which will need to become sustainable and independent of earth for resources such as food and water. All of this is for settlers living and working in a harsh environment with high levels of radiation, low gravity, and long periods of isolation with limited resources. It is a really interesting subject that should capture students’ imaginations and inspire some amazing work.
“The groups will share their work throughout the week via a collaborative working space, where they'll receive feedback from creative and space industry professionals from studios such as Creative Assembly, Union VFX, and Space Specialists. We thank them for their support and 4wardFutures for this opportunity. We are always inspired by the incredible creativity of NextGen students and can’t wait to see the work they produce.”

For updates on the students’ progress keep an eye on NextGen’s social media channels from the 19th to 24th April, with a full round up on our website after the project has finished.

4wardFutures is a Warrington based charity that is working to empower young people of all backgrounds to take control of their future careers and progression opportunities by engaging with employers, universities and professional organisations against the backdrop of a world that is rapidly changing through the impact of innovation and new technology.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Mastcam-Z's First 360-Degree Panorama - This is the first 360-degree panorama taken by Mastcam-Z, a zoomable pair of cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. The panorama was stitched together on Earth from 142 individual images taken on Sol 3, the third Martian day of the mission (Feb. 21, 2021).

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