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University of Arizona picks up $1.6M for serious use of computer games

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PHOENIX — Researchers at the University of Arizona are using a million-dollar federal grant for computer games in a study on mining safety.

The school’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the UA Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources have received $1.6 million in federal funding to put toward improving safety for miners on the job. One of the training processes will include “serious games.”

The simulations will duplicate real mining conditions. The three-year grant was approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“U.S. mine workers sit through many hours of safety training each year but the training is not always as effective as it needs to be,” Jeff Burgess, associate dean of research and professor at the public health college, said in a media release this week.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration requires incoming miners have at least 40 hours of safety training before they can work a site.

“This study will focus on reducing fatalities, injuries and illness in mine workers by developing a competency-based framework for safety training for workers, safety professionals and managers through the use of serious games.”

Last year, UA and tech startup Desert Saber teamed up to market the program. Desert Saber was formed by the group that created the program.

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