NGRAIN is an electronic training development company which specializes in 3D simulation technologies.  More specifically, NGRAIN has focused on equipment training programs, virtual task training and maintenance support systems using interactive equipment simulations.

Many of their products and services take the form of interactive, explodeable 3D representations of complex machinery and equipment such as aircraft engines, military weapons or off-shore oil rigs.  Their goals are to accelerate training, increase first-time performance, minimize downtime, streamline operations and optimize worker performance in general.

Face 1 – Market Type

To date NGRAIN has focused on the training needs of government, military and corporate training needs.  NGRAIN’s customers include all branches of the United States and Canadian militaries, as well as leading manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Standard Aero, Northrop Grumman, and CAE.

Face 2 – Type of Offering

NGRAIN’s focus is to provide consulting, designing and development services to their clients.  They create 3D training solutions by consulting with the client and designing models, applications and courses that are deliverable over average computer systems as opposed to custom or expensive workstations.

Although the creation of custom models and application is where they began, NGRAIN has also developed a number of “off-the-shelf” solutions that can be implemented with simple technical and training data provided by the customer.

Face 3 – Who is the buyer?

NGRAIN’s business model is based on a corporation or government entity purchasing the content for the learner.

Face 4 – Global Market

NGRAIN has focused on two global markets: wired Anglophone countries and special (military/maritime) situations.  They have had no major issues reaching these markets and have made significant progress in the North American Market both in the private and public sector.

Face 5 – Market Development

I would say that the market NGRAIN caters to is highly developed.  Large Western corporations, military and government agencies are among some of the earliest adopters of educational technology used for training.  This market is not only well established but has fairly deep pockets and the justification for accurate, high-quality training such as 3D simulations and interactive scenarios.  The potential costs of downtime in these markets are often very large and extend beyond the financial to include the safety and well-being of those trained.

Face 6 – Learning Technology Integration

NGRAIN focuses on content development but has made strides in meshing their content with established learning systems.  Many of their materials are designed to fit within established learning management systems or be delivered along with traditional training methods.

This company does not wish to replace traditional training methods such as hands-on time with equipment, traditional class-based learning or on-the-job training but provide a new, supplemental view of equipment and tasks which is unavailable any other way.


1 Omar Ramroop { 09.25.09 at 11:58 am }

Hi Michel,

Nice job cubing NGRAIN. Do you have any first-hand experience or recommendation for their services?

One of my occupations involves working with anatomical models at a hospital to provide training for pre-service nurses and pre-service doctors in residence. As you can imagine, the services that NGRAIN provides would seem to integrate nicely into what I do. I especially like your comment at the end:

“This company does not wish to replace traditional training methods such as hands-on time with equipment, traditional class-based learning or on-the-job training but provide a new, supplemental view of equipment and tasks which is unavailable any other way.”

Excellent synopsis and conclusion to the analysis. That is the exact purpose that I would apply it for in my context. Not to replace what we do, but more to supplement and use it to develop familiarity and skills. The technology tab from the website caught my interest as it shows an anatomical model in the display.

Once again, great job.


2 David Vogt { 09.25.09 at 1:51 pm }

I concur – good job. NGRAIN wishes to move into post-secondary markets but a major challenge is that their learning system is “locked-down” – not participative or organic – in a web 2.0 world it is decidedly ‘anti-social’. It highlights a stark difference between traditional military and current post-secondary learning cultures. Do you think this difference is real and necessary? What should a company like NGRAIN do about?

3 Michel Lacoursiere { 09.25.09 at 3:34 pm }

I was looking at NGRAIN as part of a research project looking at the feasibility of using 3D and immersive technologies to train fire rescue personnel. I don’t have much experience with them other than I did a case study for that project so I don’t have mcuh firsthand experience with their products.

I should also mention that I was very close to applying for an instructional designer position they had open last month. I decided with my limited time left in Vancouver, I’m returning to Alberta next summer, and the classroom calling my name I would be happier in the chemistry lab than the office.

I agree DavidV that their content is quite locked down and very much an individual experience. I think they do 3D recreations of complex devices and machinery very well, but their instructional design and delivery is mixed at best.

I think there is a different culture of education behind military/corporate training ventures and those pursued by post secondary institutions. The difference is real and I think it stems from how these very different institutions view and pursue the training process as a whole.

Again, NGRAIN does develop very high-end simulations and they don’t pretend to be much more than a simulation house. With this in mind they do seem to have found a promising niche for themselves and I am not sure if NGRAIN is too worried if all they bring in is large corporate, military and energy-based contracts.

4 davidp { 09.27.09 at 4:40 pm }

Good points, Michel. But as DavidV points out and as you note, to crack the higher education culture would definitely require a mindset and culture change on the part of this particular company. They can stay within their own market niche successfully, but would be forced to accommodate a different style in a parallel education universe to make a successful entry.

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