Virtual reality gives North a new dimension

Students+from+the+Geek+Culture+Club++travel+around+the+world+and+beyond+using+virtual+reality+headsets+without+ever+leaving+the+classroom.+
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Virtual reality gives North a new dimension

Students from the Geek Culture Club  travel around the world and beyond using virtual reality headsets without ever leaving the classroom.

Students from the Geek Culture Club travel around the world and beyond using virtual reality headsets without ever leaving the classroom.

Morgan E. Cuda

Students from the Geek Culture Club travel around the world and beyond using virtual reality headsets without ever leaving the classroom.

Morgan E. Cuda

Morgan E. Cuda

Students from the Geek Culture Club travel around the world and beyond using virtual reality headsets without ever leaving the classroom.

Marissa Wiesenbach, North Campus Editor

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At North Campus, virtual reality goes beyond gaming, as the interactive computer-generated experience allows students to immerse themselves into a new generation of technology, which boasts many practical applications in various career fields such as healthcare, education, engineering, and business.

This simulated, artificial world enhances student learning experiences and prepares individuals, regardless of their major, for the workforce or further academic studies.

At North Campus, students can experience virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality while taking classes instructed by Professor Rebecca Elinich in the newly-opened Innovation Lab. This contemporary space is complete with a virtual reality and augmented reality lab, which boasts Microsoft Dell visors and VIVE virtual reality systems. This cutting-edge technology allows students to design and immerse themselves into their own projects.

Professor Elinich says, “While taking classes in the Innovation Lab, students have the opportunity to work with multiple pieces of equipment they may encounter in the industry. In addition, students have the opportunity to work with industry-standard software.”

Currently, students can use programs such as Maya Autodesk, Unity, and Unreal Engine to design three-dimensional environments and objects.

Students who wish to work with virtual reality at CCAC often major in Multimedia, Web Development, and Gaming.

CCAC students who major in Multimedia, Web Development, and Gaming graduate with an associate of science and often pursue careers in the gaming industry. This academic program is fit for students who plan to become game developers, computer programmers, game designers, or simulation programmers.

For those who already have a degree, certificates related to this academic program are available, as well. Specifically, students can obtain a certification in Multimedia Game Simulation or Multimedia Web Programming, if interested.

No prerequisite courses are required for students to enroll in this academic program. In fact, students do not even need any prior experience with virtual reality or augmented reality.

Professor Elinich says, “When I teach new students I assume that they have no previous knowledge associated with virtual reality. Although it always helps to be exposed to it, experience with virtual reality certainly is not required.”

If students are unsure about enrolling in a course related to virtual reality, they can explore the subject by attending a training seminar hosted by CCAC. These training seminars occur periodically and are open to the public.

Professor Elinich says, “I encourage students to attend these free training seminars, as they can be really helpful to students who may be interested.”

According to Professor Elinich, CCAC is one of the few schools offering this academic program in the area.

“Our academic program based in multimedia really fills a niche in the Pittsburgh area. From my perspective, many students demand multimedia programs in our community, but very few four-year institutions seem to offer them,” she says.

Although many students hope to work in the gaming industry or with virtual reality, it can often be difficult to get a job doing so in our area. One reason is because virtual reality is in its infancy. Another is because the technology can be difficult to integrate into an existing company.

Professor Elinich says, “Right now, some companies and industry groups see how virtual reality will benefit them, while others don’t.”

She says, “Job opportunities directly related to gaming are often more abundant elsewhere. If my students are hoping to start their careers in Pittsburgh, I often encourage them to search for job opportunities in fields such as healthcare, public safety, and education, in which they can assist with simulations and training exercises.”

Even if students have no intention of pursuing a career in this field, enrolling in an elective course associated with virtual reality can be beneficial, especially to those entering fields such as business, public safety, or healthcare.

According to Forbes Magazine, virtual reality is being used to train firefighters. Essentially, it is a safe and cost effective way to teach future firefighters to deal with dangerous situations. In healthcare, virtual reality is being used to train new surgeons. Some businesses are even using virtual reality to tour houses and office spaces without ever being present in person.

Professor Elinich says, “Some understanding of design and development is often beneficial to those searching for employment in areas such as business and healthcare. Our students who have been exposed to new technology, such as virtual reality, are taking fresh ideas out into their chosen industry.”

Essentially, students who take advantage of this technology while studying at CCAC will be well-prepared for their next step, as virtual reality is becoming more popular among numerous career fields for everyday use and training purposes.

About the Writer
Marissa Wiesenbach, North Campus Editor

Marissa Wiesenbach is a student at CCAC North. She is serving as Campus Editor for 2018-2019.

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