Augmented Reality (AR), News, Virtual Reality (VR)

University of Michigan to launch interdisciplinary VR program

The University of Michigan this week announced plans to launch an augmented, virtual and mixed reality (AVMR) graduate certificate. The initiative spans fourteen schools, colleges and offices, and involves thirty-two faculty members.

The institution is touting breadth in their proposed program, compared to emerging programs elsewhere.

We have the health sciences. We are a top engineering college with proximity to one of the world’s greatest manufacturing centers. We’ve got an entertainment venue, Michigan Stadium, where we can play to live audiences of 100,000 seven times a year,” said Thomas A. Finholt, dean of the School of Information, University of Michigan.

So, we are a very rich environment for producers of AR, VR and MR technology.”

The university also sees their proposed program bringing benefits in the area of cross-campus research collaboration, as well as possibilities for more involvement from corporate sponsors.

We’re also a top research institution. We combine these things, and that combination is not present in very many other universities,” explained Finholt.

The initiative will also see the construction of a network of AVMR labs for learning, research, prototyping and simulation. Opportunities for students without technical backgrounds to train in AVMR technologies will also be a focus.

The institution also cited difficulties of major content producers, such as Disney, in finding talented graduates capable of working on the AVMR field.

“Most students, and frankly even most professional designers, currently don’t have the necessary theory and training, let alone the tools, to create AVMR interfaces,” said Michael Nebeling, assistant professor of information and director of the university’s Information Interaction Lab.