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Archive: 04/04/2018

Digital Media Lab Announces Winners of Virtual Reality Contest

Transforming the UMass Amherst Community through Virtual Reality

Ready Player One 1

The UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Media Lab is pleased to announce the winners of the Ready Player One Virtual Reality Competition. To commemorate the lab’s new virtual reality (VR) capabilities from HTC VIVE, the official partner of the new film, Ready Player One, UMass Amherst students were challenged to produce a short video describing their vision of how VR technology and its applications could enhance student life on campus.

First Place: Parker Louison ’20, for an idea based on a VR application to develop simulations of various career paths and areas of study. This will help students “test the waters” of their various interests, stretching their perspectives on their own capabilities and helping them thrive in and be passionate about their future careers. Louison received an HTC VIVE set valued at $599 donated to the UMass Amherst Libraries by Dr. Steve Acquah, Digital Media Lab Unit Coordinator and Associate Adjunct Professor of Chemistry.

Second Place: Benjamin Abraham ’21, for an idea to incorporate VR into UMass Medical Services to help military veterans cope with traumatic experiences. VR therapy using applications such as Bravemind may help in the healing process of our nation’s combat personnel. Abraham received a copy of the book Ready Player One, signed by author Ernest Cline, and a $20 Cinemark Gift Card.

Third Place: Harrison Packer ’19, for an idea to enhance the sustainability aspect of campus life with a virtual reality app supporting clean energy initiatives, allowing students to examine how green technology can affect the environment. Packer received a $20 Cinemark Gift Card.

Acquah, who also serves as Director of the Global Educational Outreach for Science Engineering and Technology (GEOSET) initiative founded with one of the 1996 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, is very pleased with the outcome of the competition.

“The students at UMass Amherst show a passion for their campus community with creative and innovative ideas that can enhance campus life,” he stated. “I’m looking forward to working with our talented students on their ideas for VR applications. Our team, including the leader of our VR facility, Yuntian Hu, is ready to help enhance the student experience through technology.”

Currently located on Floor 3 of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library, the UMass Amherst Digital Media Lab is a multimedia and 3D print production space designed to support students working on video, audio, animation, and 3D modeling.

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