Facilities

UC San Diego Undergrads to Create VR, AR Content in New Lab

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) last month opened the doors to its Virtual Reality (VR) Lab, a facility for undergraduate students to develop content for virtual environments.

The space looks like “a cross between a classroom and a tech pavilion at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas,” according to a university prepared statement, with “25 standalone systems combining an Oculus Rift head-mounted display, two controllers for navigating inside VR environments, a computer workstation equipped with a high-end graphics card, various peripherals and a custom-made breakout box for plugging in and unplugging cables.” In addition, the lab has several 360-degree cameras, hand-tracking devices from Leap Motion and a HTC Vive system that were all previously purchased using a $20,000 grant from a campus-wide program.

The new VR Lab is located in the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) building and will primarily serve undergraduate students taking courses in software programming for augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). It can accommodate classes of up to 70 students. Currently, more than 300 members have joined the VR Club at UCSD, a program at the lab that connects members with the VR industry through workshops, projects and networking. For example, VR Club holds a workshop every week that is open to all UCSD students to learn more about VR.   

Another campus within the UC system, Berkeleyearlier this year opened its own facility dedicated to AR/VR research.

“Other universities may have labs that serve faculty and graduate students doing research in the field of virtual reality, and they may have a few VR systems for research use only,” CSE Chair Dean Tullsen told the university. “But to our knowledge, the VR Lab is the first designed primarily for undergrads learning how to create VR content.”

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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