OREM, Utah — Utah Valley University’s (UVU) College of Engineering & Technology (CET) is utilizing a grant from the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation to continue blending virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) technologies in STEM-related educational applications. This partnership will allow UVU faculty to utilize the technology in a newly formed Mixed-Reality and Simulation degree program in UVU’s Department of Digital Media, with classes planned to begin in Fall 2022.
The grant from the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation revolves around Microsoft HoloLens 2 augmented headsets, which allow users to work with virtually placed objects within a physical space. Mixed-reality technology involves the blending of physical and digital worlds, liberating users from screen-bound virtual-reality experiences, such as headsets that block out the physical world. UVU Digital Media professors Michael Harper, Marty Clayton, and Paul Cheney are the strategic leaders of this initiative and the new degree program. This technology adds to UVU’s already deep cache of technology equipment for students to utilize in their current degrees.
“The next decade of extended reality technologies will form the foundation of the next 100 years of our technology-based world,” Michael Harper said. “Without the help of our partners like Rocky Mountain Power Foundation, we could not have accelerated our capabilities to meet these goals. We are extremely grateful for their help and vision as we create amazing opportunities to learn STEM and emerging technologies for our students.”
Nearly 30 students participated in UVU’s first two Mixed-Reality Essentials pilot courses offered Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. These classes, and this type of technology, are expected to grow tenfold and to greatly influence the degree program as it is built and implemented. UVU also plans to offer similar classes to Utah high school students enrolled in concurrent enrollment programs. In addition, the university hosts area high school teachers in mixed-reality teacher training workshops. The next workshop in the series is scheduled for June 28-30.
“I love that our program has been able to give students the option to experience state-of-the-art technologies which can enhance our current reality,” UVU digital media student Chelsea Hansen said. “Being a part of the Mixed-Reality Essentials class increased my opportunity to learn more about the next generation of technologies that will help our world as a whole. Out of all the devices, the HoloLens 2 really caught my attention, as it fulfilled my childhood dream of holographic reality — something I think is not too far away from consumer usage. Thanks to having this hands-on experience, I feel more prepared to navigate future job markets in digital media.”
Rocky Mountain Power Foundation’s grant money is helping push UVU’s mission of student success in work and life through excellence in engaged learning and progress.
About College of Engineering & Technology at Utah Valley University
The mission of the College of Engineering & Technology (CET) is to prepare students for successful careers or advanced study in a dynamic, technology-based, global environment. CET houses 11 departments consisting of areas in engineering, technology, computer science, aviation, and digital media. Included digital media degrees include Digital Cinema Production, Digital Audio Production, Animation & Game Development, and Web Design & Development.
About Rocky Mountain Power Foundation
The Rocky Mountain Power Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Rocky Mountain Power. Our mission, through our charitable investments, is to support the growth and vitality of our communities. In 2021, the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation awarded nearly $1.5 million to local nonprofit organizations.