8 June 2015 11:59

Lancaster University is aiming to become the first UK university to be accurately recreated in the computer game Minecraft.

A team of eight enthusiastic students are working together using official building plans to faithfully recreate the top-10 ranked institution’s Bailrigg Campus, which is set in parkland on the edge of the city of Lancaster.

More than 500 hours have been spent on the build so far – which is at an accurate scale of two bricks per metre. Buildings so far recreated include Alexandra Square, the hub of Lancaster’s campus, the Ruskin Library, and the university’s newly completed Engineering building.

When completed, the build will allow prospective students to tour the campus even from the other side of the world.

The ‘virtual’ build is expected to take between six and 12 months to complete, however one of the main purposes of the project is to raise awareness of the potential of digital skills for young people.

A special digital skills event, held on June 17 in partnership with Lancaster university Students' Union, will see pupils from secondary schools across North West England invited to Lancaster University to try their hand at Minecraft – with some given the chance to help build part of the campus within the game.

Rob Ellis, from Lancaster University’s Innovation Hub, which is running the Minecraft campus build, said: “When the build is complete the university could use it for virtual tours, for example for foreign students looking to study at Lancaster, or for students studying at our campus in Ghana. However, we also really want to use the build as an educational tool that will raise the awareness of digital skills in young people.

“As well as engaging them with the build, our special event will also show them examples of careers obtainable through digital skills, as well as the various computing courses available at the university.

“There is a big skills shortage in sectors like cyber security, which is vital to the UK’s future prosperity. It is hugely important to engage young people at an early stage and to get them thinking about their future options – and that is what this Minecraft project is all about.”

The digital skills event will also include sessions with careers advisors as well as relevant businesses. There will also be demonstrations of technology, such as Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headsets.

People are able to follow the progress of the build online by visiting http://innovationhub.lancaster.ac.uk/portfolio/minecraft-campus/

Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks to build structures. It has become a world-wide hit with more than 19.6 million copies sold.

Many famous real-world landmarks have been faithfully recreated within Minecraft, including the Eiffel Tower, the Chrysler Building, the Houses of Parliament and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

More details about Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications can be found by visiting http://www.scc.lancs.ac.uk/

TV Interview

Watch Rob Ellis on LA1:TV talking about Lancaster's Innovation Hub and the Minecraft campus build: