Client : Saudi Aramco
Location:  Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco’s Upstream Professional Development Center (UPDC) is a state-of-the-art classroom and training facility to foster collaborative learning of graduate-level curricula designed for tomorrow’s oil and gas engineers and technicians. Saudi Media Systems provided the engineering, installation and operations support for one of the leading education facilities in the region.

Collaborative Classrooms

The UPDC comprises 21 classrooms, 3 simulators, 8 huddle rooms, library, conference rooms, large multi-purpose atrium and 60 offices for administrators and training staff. Each of the classrooms is equipped for interactive collaborative learning, with large 6.4 x 2.7 meter displays for sharing sources that include instructor Linux and Windows workstations, interactive touchscreen, streamed content from video-on-demand servers at the data center, and high resolution imagery generated at high-performance servers at the data center. All classroom displays are 3-D capable, with 14 of the classrooms featuring edge-blended passive stereo projection systems.

Six (6) of the larger classrooms are designed for 3-D active stereo displays, and two of these classrooms feature the world’s largest rear-projection systems. These 50-person classrooms can display interactive immersive 3-D imagery, with students steering through data sets of Saudi Aramco’s exploration engineering applications.

The Geology and Earth Sciences Classroom was designed as a flexible, reconfigurable environment in which instructors and students can move freely through the room. Saudi Media Systems designed the room as a turnkey project, including architectural design, acoustic treatment, furniture and technology systems. All content is streamed across a wireless LAN segment so that the instructor present from various positions in the room, using a tablet for presentation. Microscopes for individual examination of sam ples are supplemented by a high-resolution interactive touchtable where students can zoom into scans of core samples using multitouch controls. The main display is a large Microtile array, with sources switched from the LAN, and side-displays are interactive touchscreens.


The UPDC has two simulators. One of them, the Drill-rig Simulator, provides realistic hands-on training for rig operators. The simulator consists of driller and assistant driller stations, 4 large screens (5m x 3.75m), a “dog house” and an observation platform. It also has an instructor station to control simulation sessions. Users are able to practice with a Blow-Out Preventer (BOP) panel, choke control panel, standpipe manifold and choke manifold.

The other simulator is a virtual environment, a CAVE or CAVE Automated Virtual Environment. Saudi Media Systems designed and engineered the UPDC Well-bore Simulator, which is the world’s largest solid screen reconfigurable CAVE. Imagery originates at a cluster computer in the Data Center and is transported via a fiber matrix to the simulator. The CAVE is a four-sided immersive virtual-reality display, with each 3 x 3 meter screen served by two edge-blended HD projectors providing synchronized 120Hz stereo imagery. This allows UPDC students to experience the locations, equipment, and concepts of upstream oil and gas operations and processes. Using a 6-degree of freedom steering system, students stand on a glass projection floor and are surrounded by virtual experiences such as virtual reservoir exploration, rock outcrops/field visits, virtual well site visits, vertical seismic profile (VSP) simulation, well logging, and seismic acquisition. They also learn to visualize complex concepts like borehole environment, multiphase fluid flow, acoustic wave propagation, neutron thermalization, reservoir management, and geophysical scales.

Multipurpose Atrium Lobby

Visitors and students at the UPDC are greeted by a large atrium lobby that hosts exhibitions, graduation ceremonies and other special events. Two touchscreen totems provide interactive information on courses and way-finding in the Center, and a 5 x 3 meter Microtile display provides a bright high-resolution backdrop to events in the atrium.

The main conference room lies directly off the atrium lobby. The conference room features an active 3-D stereo display system, video conferencing, video streaming and audio discussion systems.

Infrastructure and Data Center

As the technology systems contractor, Saudi Media Systems designed and configured a Gigaspeed LAN that serves all of the classrooms, laboratories, simulators, library and administrative offices in the complex. A Tier 3 data center houses the core switches and servers for the UPDC, and each classroom and lab is equipped with an access switch and wireless access points. In addition to ethernet connectivity, a 160 x 160 optical fiber switched fabric matrix transports high resolution video from a 10-node computer cluster. Bi-directional signaling between the data center computers and the classrooms and simulators provides synchronization of 3D active stereo displays and eye-wear as well as interactive control of the content via 6-axis steering systems.

The data center also hosts video streaming servers for recording and on-demand playout. The system is capable of recording dual synchronized streams at 1080p resolution, so that classroom and lab sessions may be archived, post-produced and delivered as eLearning content.


The UPDC is one of the milestone achievements in Saudi Aramco’s drive to develop and enhance its skilled workforce, and Saudi Media Systems is proud to be an active partipant in the Center. The UPDC has proved to be a major success, having delivered hundreds of course sessions, training thousands of participants from eight upstream areas, including geology, geophysics, petro physics, reservoir, production, drilling and facilities engineering, and upstream computing. As the UPDC academic dean concludes, “By incorporating instructional design concepts, advanced training technologies and formal competency assurance, the Upstream Professional Development Center provides engaging, effective and efficient training that accelerates the achievement of competency and improves job performance.”


Computing HP
Videostreaming Haivision
Projection, 3D and 2D Christie Digital
Display Processing Christie Digital, RGB Spectrum
Touchscreens Samsung
Audio Processing ClearOne
IP Content Hiperwall
6-Axis Steering Intersense
Fiber Matrix Thinklogical
Digital signage Cayin
Room Management AMX