Not just for gamers: CSU launching Virtual Reality Initiative

VR hackathon

Think “virtual reality,” and it’s probably video gaming that comes to mind. CSU is looking to expand the breadth and depth of this emerging technical field with a campus-wide Virtual Reality Initiative, launching this semester.

The initiative will give students and the science community hands-on experience with virtual reality, for research and educational applications.

Virtual reality (VR) is a way of experiencing virtual worlds or objects – the cockpit of a spaceship, an anatomy lesson, a walk through a historical building – through devices like computers, goggles or headsets designed to immerse someone in a simulated environment. VR touches fields ranging from design to art to engineering.

An effort inspired by groundbreaking research

Alan Rudolph, CSU’s vice president for research, believes there is tremendous potential for VR and cross-disciplinary uses on campus and beyond. The VR Initiative will focus on expanding cutting-edge VR technology into on-campus and online curricula, as well as increasing research, innovation and design opportunities.

Rudolph was inspired to launch this initiative at CSU, in part, because of his work with the Walk Again Project, an international team of scientists who are using VR to train people with paraplegia to walk again. The project recently reported its first clinical results.

“The CSU VR Initiative holds the potential to expand our land-grant heritage to the students, faculty, staff and community by connecting humanities, science and the creative arts,” Rudolph said. “There are many possible applications for VR to be used in future curricula, and in every corner of the university.”

Students, faculty, staff and anyone interested will have many opportunities to become involved with the initiative through on-campus demonstrations, as well as visits to a VR lab opening this fall. A VR hackathon will take place in October, and other events will be offered during a Virtual Reality Week.

Virtual Reality Demonstrations

Attend a virtual reality demonstration to learn about the VR lab, the VR hackathon and to try out the technology. These events are free and open to the public.

All demonstrations will take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 23 – Morgan Library Atrium
  • Wednesday, Aug. 24 – Lory Student Center, Room 308-310
  • Thursday, Aug. 25 – Computer Sciences Building Lounge
  • Tuesday, Aug. 30 – Braiden Hall Atrium
  • Wednesday, Aug. 31 – Behavioral Sciences Building
  • Thursday, Sept. 1 – Scott Bioengineering Building Atrium
  • Tuesday, Sept. 6 – Chemistry Building Atrium
  • Wednesday, Sept. 7 – Engineering Building Infill Lounge
  • Thursday, Sept. 8 – Parmelee Hall Atrium

Virtual Reality Week: Oct. 19-23

The week of events will include lectures, demonstrations and a hackathon, in which participants will be challenged to create a virtual experience within 48 hours.

Leadership in Innovation Series, Oct. 19, 4-6 p.m., Lory Student Center Ballroom A: Join the Office of the Vice President for Research for the 2016 Leadership in Innovation Series featuring William Warren, vice president and head of Innovation Programs and Networks at Sanofi Pasteur VaxDesign Corp. A biotechnology research and development company, Sanofi Pasteur designs, develops, and manufactures in vitro models of the human immune system.

VR Symposium, Friday, Oct. 21, 9 a.m.- 12 p.m.; Lory Student Center Ballroom A: The symposium will include speakers from industry and other research universities to discuss technological trends and potential for research, education and art expansion with VR. Free and open to the public.

VR Hackathon, Oct. 21-23, Aylesworth Design Lab: Teams of software developers, programmers, artists and innovators are invited to attend a 48-hour weekend event to engage in collaborative development of a virtual and/or immersive reality experience. Hardware and software will be provided by the new VR lab. Winning teams will receive cash prizes.

Any student or community member can apply to participate in the hacakthon. Participants will gain basic knowledge of VR principles and skills during pre-hackathon workshops, as well as during the event. Apply to participate through Oct. 7.