Department Seminars

April 2, 2008
Excursions in Low-Cost Virtual Reality

John Zelle, Professor of Computer Science, Wartburg College, will deliver a CS seminar on Wednesday, April 2, at 3:30 PM in 322 ITTC.


Virtual Reality (VR) technologies provide an immersive environment for users to interact with computer simulated 3D environments. VR offers exciting and nearly limitless possibilities in an educational setting. Although basic VR techniques have existed for decades, there has been little penetration of VR into the classroom, largely due to the budget and expertise necessary to set up and maintain current VR systems. For the last 7 years, we have had undergraduate computer science majors engaged in research projects focused on lowering the barriers to VR as an educational vehicle. This talk will include a demonstration of the tools and techniques that we have developed as well as an assessment of the prospects for VR as a practical classroom technology.

John Zelle earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science at Iowa State University in 1984 and 1986, respectively. He then took his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Texas in 1995, in the area of machine learning, with a focus on explanation-based learning (EBL) and inductive logic programming (ILP). His current work lies mainly in computer science education, especially the languages and environments used to learn programming. Recently, he has been working with undergraduates and Wartburg physics professor Charles Figura to develop a virtual reality lab called SVEN "on a shoe-string". Recent projects include stereoscopic projection and presentation systems, position tracking, remote viewing robotics, and visualization of neuron structures.


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