Some graduate students at the UBC Okanagan campus took a virtual tour of the university’s actual future. “As you go into the simulation, you will be able to walk around,” Joel Thiessen said to a student as she strapped on VR goggles.
Thiessen is part of UBCO’s new Visualization and Emerging Media Studio. He is helping to demonstrate how virtual reality or VR can contribute to a new ‘immersive technologies’ program at the university using an Oculus headset and a massive monitor wall.
“Virtual and augmented reality is a really new technology for a lot of people,” said Thiessen.
“We are going to educate and train the students in this new emerging field,” added Dr. Abbas Milani from the UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering and also the head of the new “CREATE Immersive Technologies’ program.
Milani believes that BC is a global hub for ‘immersive technologies,’ a domain that has experienced an enormous gain in popularity ever since the onset of the pandemic.
“Certainly, I think (the) pandemic, one lesson that it gave us is that the virtual world is very critical in our day to day business,” Milani explained.
However, there is still no defined university curriculum to help students develop and use the technology. As a result, UBCO is developing a $4 million program, comprising a six-year Master’s degree, through a $1.65 million grant from the federal government.
“It’s the first program in the world of its kind,” Milani exclaimed.
“To have a new program like this and to have the opportunity to explore these technologies in an academic setting is going to open up huge potential,” added Thiessen.
The new ‘CREATE Immersive Technologies’ program is slated to begin this fall.
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