Training the next generation of leaders in immersive technology

“There is currently a huge demand for adopting virtual, augmented and mixed reality systems across the globe,” says professor Dr. Abbas S. Milani.

Lead of the newly established CREATE Immersive Technologies (CITech) program, Milani and his team have received $1.65-million in federal funds to establish one of the world’s first immersive technologies graduate programs at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Immersive technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality systems, enable users to interact naturally with a blended environment of physical and virtual content.

“This new program will equip students with the skills to flourish in the fast-paced, continually evolving field of immersive technologies,” says Milani.

The $1.65-million grant comes from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program. An additional $2.5 million from other partners will help UBC develop multiple and innovative cross-departmental courses.

The program will take advantage of UBC Okanagan’s state-of-the-art Visualization and Emerging Media Studio along with other high-tech labs across the campus.

Milani and his co-applicants believe that UBC Okanagan provides an ideal environment for training the next generation of leaders in immersive technology.

Watching the projected impact of immersive technologies on the Canadian health-care sector, the team at UBCO is taking a holistic to their research. “To make the biggest impact with this program, contributions from arts and health are imperative,” says Milani.

The new endeavour will link researchers, students and partners from traditionally distinct sectors such as engineering, creative and critical studies, medicine, nursing, education and computer science.

The program will establish a large and diverse cohort of students each year, who will develop immersive technology skills through multidisciplinary course work along with basic and applied research. They will work and study in an integrated setting that will include computational, engineering, smart manufacturing, health and artistic design perspectives.

“Collaborations between our faculties, our campus and industry, along with our researchers and the community are the perfect incubator for training the high-tech workers of tomorrow.”

[top photo] UBCO associate professor Megan Smith along with student Yugi Goa explore a virtual reality environment.