New class teaches revolutionary technology skills
Kimi Andrew & Emma Pollans
The Santa Clara
October 12, 2017
The College of Arts and Sciences is boldly taking Broncos where no Broncos have gone before.
The Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History building is the new home of Santa Clara’s Imaginarium, a space where students have the opportunity to experiment with this innovative technology.
In order to help members of the university community get accustomed to virtual reality (VR), the College of Arts and Sciences is offering a ”bootcamp” class called “Virtual Reality 101,” or ARTS 197A.
The class started this fall and will continue throughout the winter and spring quarters.
The course gives students the chance to learn how to create their own VR experience from the ground up. The class meets once a week and introduces students to coding, story building, equipment management and content creation.
According to the SCU Imaginarium Facebook page, the space is for students, faculty and staff to “both build and experience several different VR systems, including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Microsoft HoloLens.”
Max Sims, the professor for all three sections of Virtual Reality 101, emphasized how important VR can be in everyday life, especially in a university classroom.
“It’s important for faculty because there might be better ways of being able to teach students in ways that they will retain the knowledge better,” said Sims. “It’s one thing to see a bad slide of Machu Picchu, but it’d be another thing to stand in Machu Picchu with VR.”
Ken Wakaba, a senior at Santa Clara majoring in engineering, initially enrolled in Virtual Reality 101 to help with his senior design project, involving the concept of creating a VR crime lab.
“It’s the first non-major class that I’m taking and it’s a ton of fun,” said Wakaba. “Having access to the VR lab all week to come and experiment with whenever I want is an added bonus.”
While primarily known for gaming purposes, VR is becoming extremely prevalent in many careers and professions, especially in the heart of Silicon Valley.
“We are putting a lot of effort into VR and AR right now because both technologies are showing they can and will have a real impact on visual storytelling and how we understand the world,” Dr. Stephen Lee said, an associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences.
“VR is being used to explore complex issues like climate change. The technology can put us places we can’t readily visit and make concrete an abstract issue like the impact of rising sea temperatures.”
Students who are both enrolled and not enrolled in the boot camp courses are also invited to participate in the first-ever Imagine That! Competition, managed by Sims.
The competiton will involve teams of four tasked with creating their own VR experience, based around trying to answer a question, solve a problem or address a topic.
Professionals from the virtual reality industry will help to mentor and and guide students throughout the year-long process.
The Imaginarium also hosts various events. Sims is currently developing a VR Speaker Series for guest speakers from the VR industry to come share their experiences of how VR is changing the world.
Victoria Rege from NVIDIA, a Santa Clarabased graphic design company, and Brennan Doyle from Lytro, the world’s most powerful Light Field imaging platform, have already come to the Imaginarium to share their real-world experiences with visual effects and virtual reality.
The lecture series and events hosted are open to the public and all students are welcome to attend. Contact Meghan McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.
Contact Emma Pollans at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.