From carpenter to virtual reality designer

Carlos Melo migrated from Venezuela to forge a new path in Australia - transitioning from life as a carpenter to become a virtual reality (VR) experience designer. Graduating from SAE with a Bachelor of Game Development, Carlos has utilised his skills to create hyper-realistic VR environments for clients that prepare their staff for the real-world.
Man with VR headset on in computer generated building site

Carlos made the life-changing decision to immigrate to Australia due to the rampant corruption and challenges plaguing his home country. It was during this time that he discovered his interest in carpentry.

“I built strong connections with builders in Australia, and got to experience many different aspects of the construction industry, which has really helped me now in my current career as a VR Experience Designer,” Carlos shared.

Carlos’ exposure to diverse aspects of the construction industry proved instrumental in shaping his subsequent career as a VR experience designer. Fuelled by a lifelong passion for video games, he enrolled in the Bachelor of Game Development course at SAE Brisbane in 2015.

Translating games

The transition from gaming enthusiast to a student studying game development posed initial challenges, including language barriers and unfamiliar technical terms. However, as his English skills improved, Carlos began to extract greater value from his studies and found the experience at SAE to be captivating and highly relevant to his career aspirations.

“Initially I didn’t know what to expect, because having a passion for gaming is different from studying game development,” Carlos admitted. “As my English wasn’t that strong, at that point, there were some technical terms I didn’t understand.

“I always enjoyed the course, and as my English got stronger, I got more out of it and found the overall experience at SAE to be really fascinating and relevant to what I wanted as a career.”

Collaborating with fellow students allowed Carlos to gain practical insights into industry dynamics and effective communication among team members. “Being able to work on projects with students who were 3D modellers and audio engineers, reflected what it’s like to work in the industry and communicate with one another, which was really beneficial.”

A new world of opportunities

Upon completing his degree, Carlos secured a position as a VR developer at XRJV Training, ultimately transitioning to Next World, a globally recognised leader in VR training services.

“My role is to collaborate with subject matter experts and create immersive VR environments that deliver on an organisation’s needs to upskill and develop their staff with training that is highly engaging,” Carlos explained.

Drawing on his background in carpentry and construction, Carlos brings a unique perspective to the creation of realistic VR simulations. “Having that career history has certainly been valuable,” Carlos said. “In addition, having an understanding of using machinery like driving a forklift has meant we’re able to make those simulations hyper-realistic.

“One of the projects I previously worked on was giving professionals safety inductions on managing large machinery in tunnels, which often is such an alien concept to some people,” he added. “If you can train people in safe environments within VR that will prepare them for the real world.”

Rapid growth of VR

Carlos has observed the rapid growth of the VR industry in Australia since his entry into the field in 2017. With companies increasingly embracing VR as a training tool across various sectors, the industry’s value has surged exponentially, and now has a global value of $41.8 billion, and is expected to grow by 13 percent over the next seven years, according to Grand View Research.

Applications of VR technology now extend beyond gaming to encompass diverse fields such as farming and warehouse packaging, presenting boundless opportunities for future professionals looking to enter the industry.

“For anyone who wants to explore a career in VR, studying at somewhere like SAE will give you the core skills and knowledge to start out,” Carlos advised. “Even thinking about how you’d take a different approach to a single feature of a game you like playing, will get you thinking differently, and will help you in any future career in game development.”

Two people playing a video game

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