Wednesday, June 28, 2017

UC San Diego’s Virtual Reality Club Sees Success in 2016-2017

The Virtual Reality (VR) Club at UC San Diego is a student organization that connects students with the VR industry through networking, workshops, and projects. Their mission is to foster a multi-disciplinary community dedicated to exploring and creating VR experiences. Two years since it’s founding, the club and it’s members are making themselves known around UC San Diego and the region.

Check out some of the highlights from 2016-2017 below:

  • Early Fall quarter, the VR Club started the year by hosting one of the biggest VR spaces ever to exist at a hackathon at SD Hacks. Complete with 10 HTC Vives, 12 VR-ready computers, two Oculus Rifts, and many more Google Cardboards, the VR Club achieved the most HTC Vive projects ever submitted to a hackathon, the most-attended workshop at SD Hacks, and tied for the highest rated workshop at the event. Read about the hackathon here.

  • On April 5th, the VR Club offered students the chance to try out new augmented reality innovations in partnership with Red Bull. Check out the video here.

  • April 7th-9th, UC San Diego engineering and archaeology students that teamed up for the world’s first cyber-archaeology hackathon. The hackathon was hosted by the VR Club in partnership with the Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability, which is housed in UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute. The marriage of archaeology, computer science, engineering, and the natural sciences, cyber-archaeology enlists the help of technology to safeguard the past for future generations. During the event, undergraduate students were given access to “virtual remains” from at-risk archaeological sites excavated by UC San Diego archaeology teams. The students faced the challenge of weaving this digital data, over the course of a weekend, into an engaging virtual reality experience that would help draw more people to the stories and lessons that history has to tell. Read more here.

  • VR Club President Connor Smith spoke at the Link2 event on May 22nd a showcase started by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation to inspire local young people to innovate and pursue careers in technology.

  • On May 25th, the VR Club won the Outstanding Student Organization of the Year, which displays outstanding effort in many areas. Organizations that win this award make contributions to both the University and the local community, have great leadership, support member development, and show commitment to diversity.

  • Smith was interviewed by ABC San Diego also on May 25th. He showed reporter Jessica Chen his “Sensory” project, that the VR Club created in TreeHacks, a 36-hour Hackathon at Stanford. The technology helps people understand disorders, cultivating empathy. Sensory won two awards at TreeHacks, for “Most Creative,” and “Best Education.”

  • HackXX, UC San Diego’s all-female hackathon, took place for 24 straight hours from June 3rd-4th in the Qualcomm Room at the Jacobs Engineering School. This event empowers female women in tech to make their technological goals come to life. The VR Club was there as a sponsor, providing 24-hour mentorship. Three of the teams competing were also affiliated with the club. Their “Escape from Wonderland” team won first place for their 3D video game in the style of Alice in Wonderland. Another team, “Zenga,” won the Northrop Grumman’s Excellent UX Design Challenge.

  • To cap off the 2016-2017 school year, the club held their Spring Project Showcase on June 9th. 10 teams demonstrated projects, including six HTC Vive demos, two Google Cardboard demos, and one Google Daydream demo.

In addition to these highlights, the club also offered workshops in partnership with companies like Microsoft, and sponsored events like Sun God and the Triton 5K, and participated in outreach to local junior high and high schools. Interested in joining? Check them out on Facebook!

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