Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning unveils Student Developer Lab in Computing Center; Open House scheduled for March 21, 2023
LTS’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning will unveil its new Student Developer Lab this semester, offering a fully student-focused learning environment enhanced by cutting-edge technology. This dedicated space provides a research and testing ground for students interested in anything ranging from virtual reality, game design and development, creation of interactive apps, and more. Students will find unlimited access and opportunities to try their ideas on for size, collaborate with peers, and apply their creativity.
”We’re so pleased to make the Student Developer Lab available to students. It’s our hope that by offering space, applications and tools to students we’re providing a collaborative environment in which they can really test their creativity and curiosity developing immersive experiences. We’re excited to see what comes from their efforts,” said Peggy Kane, Director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.
An Open House is scheduled for Tuesday, March 21 at 2:00 p.m. (lower level Computing Center). The entire campus community is invited.
“As this area continues to evolve and as we move closer to the emergence of a functional metaverse, the need arises to cultivate a community of learners who are able to utilize these technologies to find solutions to problems and create tools and experiences that would serve both the Lehigh community and, more broadly, society,” said Stephen Sakasitz, CITL Senior Instructional Designer. With these tools and technology, students have the opportunity to experiment and build in all aspects of both immersive 3D as well as 2D environments -- from virtual reality to mobile gaming to 3D modeling, he said.
The lab, managed by CITL graduate student assistants, is located on the lower level of the Computing Center, just across from FML. Students can apply for access to the lab for hands-on learning, designing, development, testing, and collaboration, with evening and weekend hours available.
With these tools and technology, students have the opportunity to experiment and build in all aspects of both immersive 3D as well as 2D environments -- from virtual reality to mobile gaming to 3D modeling
In planning the lab, Sakasitz said, “we hope to cultivate a learning environment for interactive and game-based design and development with a focus on immersive technologies such as AR/VR.”
”We also want to foster and highlight the value of interdisciplinary collaboration for impactful innovation, and to utilize emerging technologies to find solutions to problems or new ways of experiencing things,” he said. “Through hands-on experience in the Dev Lab, students can gain familiarity with innovative problem solving methods within modern trends and equipment.”
Cutting-Edge Technology for an Immersive & Collaborative Experience
The high-tech space is equipped with powerful gaming workstations and hardware, large desktop monitors and wide-aspect displays -- suitable for aspiring designers and developers, with access to sophisticated VR and AR headsets, tools, and resources, including:
- Two VR-ready development workstations for both independent and group work
- A BYOD (bring your own device) lounge area for meeting and collaboration
- Large-scale wall displays for sharing, screening, and previewing
- A variety of HMD's for use and testing including Meta Quest 2, HTC Vive, Microsoft Hololens, and more
- Access to a wide variety of platforms and development software such as Unity, Unreal Engine, Blender, Uptale and more
Students can analyze how to best tailor these technologies to their needs within diverse fields, including:
- 2D and 3D game design and development
- Mobile application development
- 3D model building/photogrammetry
- 360 degree immersive imagery
- Other areas on the periphery of XR that continue to emerge
The Student Developer Lab joins the CITL Data Visualization & XR Learning Lab in FML as a space where students and faculty can experience virtual reality environments designed for exploratory learning, investigation of digital information at large scale, pedagogical evaluation, and discovery and creative inquiry.
Kush Oak, a graduate assistant for the CITL in FML, said that he has been working with Sakasitz to discover, test, and implement innovative methods to increase efficiency of learning as a whole. Oak sees the Student Developer Lab as, he said, “a space where students can look to use their imagination and skills of innovation to develop experiences for learning in virtual reality or other areas of XR using the high powered gaming workstation and programs made available at the lab.”
While the Visualization Lab offers a different environment from the Developer Lab, such as accommodating requests for presentations or exploration using content that already existed in the lab, Oak said that students can find useful tools and assistance at either room based on their goals. “The Developer Lab can be a separate route that allows the use of high graphic computers to create new and unique work,” he said. “These creations and projects can also be tested out without having to migrate to the Visualization Lab, through the VR headsets and displays already set up in the Developer Lab.”
Students will find resources and assistance at these labs to cater to the diversity of projects that can be enhanced at the lab.
If you are a student interested in game-based development or creating VR experiences, whether for courses or personal projects, CITL invites you to submit an LTS Student Developer Lab Inquiry Request. Faculty and students can schedule individual tours of the space by emailing email@example.com.
Story by Sharon Jo ‘23
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