Architecture and Engineering Students Construct Virtual Reality Prototypes

Professor Amber Bartosh and Mark Povinelli and their students were awarded a grant through the new Campus as a Laboratory for Sustainability (CALS) funding program. They plan to use the grant to construct a virtual reality simulation in Bird Library about energy awareness. Their students split into groups and designed and prototyped a virtual reality simulation that they felt would most effectively make students aware of their energy consumption. The students all came up with ingenious, and fun, ways to get their message across. One group created an interactive game consisting of a cage for students to kick or throw a ball into. Knowing that energy would be created everywhere the ball hit inside the cage, the students lined the interior of the cage with piezoelectric material. They then had a display screen showing the energy produced by the ball hitting the cage. Another group wanted to convey how much of an impact our daily activities have on organisms around us. These students channeled their artistic sides and constructed different shapes, each reflecting an organism in our environment. They then had a program that would ask a user questions like, “How did you get to class today?”. If the user’s answer had negative impacts on our planet, then the “organisms” in their set up would start to die in way that was visually apparent to the user. While all the groups’ ideas were unique, ultimately they all served a similar purpose- to remind us we have a responsibility to be sustainable, in both the decisions we make and the ways at which we expend energy.