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UCSIM Brings Virtual Reality to ShareIT Program

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016, the UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research team introduced virtual reality technology to Hughes STEM High School students in the ShareIT program.

ShareIT is a collaboration between the University of Cincinnati Information Technologies (UCIT) department, the College of Education, Human Services, & Criminal Justice (CECH), and the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (GCSC) to “bridge the gap” and increase the pipeline of diverse students pursuing STEM careers by connecting K-12 students to technology resources.

“Our primary goal is to let students explore virtual reality as a gateway to technology careers,” said Chris Collins. “We know that many students love playing video games, and we challenge them to think about how that underlying simulation technology is used in science and engineering to solve important, real world problems.”

ucit_ShareIT_UCSIM_011In addition to virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headsets, the students also experienced gesture control technology with the Leap Motion hand sensor to interact with the virtual environment.

Mentored by Hughes STEM High School and UCIT staff, the students participate in a 12-week program designed to provide hands-on experience with current technology topics such as Agile methodology, web programming, database development, robotics, and virtual reality.  The students are also given laptops loaded with software used during the program, and tutorials for creating virtual reality applications with packages like GIMP and Blender, open source image editing and 3D modeling software, and the Unity game engine.

The students complete each of the technology topic modules in the first 6 weeks, and for the remainder of the program, they form teams to create their own ShareIT applications – including the opportunity to develop their own virtual reality applications.

“ShareIT is a great program,” said Collins, “We hope the students enjoy working in virtual reality as much as we do.”

For more information about the ShareIT program, please contact Josette Riep at josette.riep@uc.edu.

Photos credits:  Jane Haniefy.