VR Becomes Real at Ringling College



What a week for Ringling College of Art and Design. Reaffirming we are indeed a college on the move, we announced Monday that we are officially adding a major in Virtual Reality Development to our already diverse curriculum. This is a game-changer for the institution, in that we are the very first art and design school in the country to offer this unique opportunity to current and prospective students.

So, what is Virtual Reality? While you may have heard of “VR,” you may not yet have had the chance to experience it. By definition, VR involves the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that you can interact with in a seemingly real or physical way by using special electronic equipment—a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors, for example.

Virtual Reality is going to change everything. The opportunities extend far beyond the worlds of gaming and entertainment. This technology will revolutionize the way we live and work, and offer incredible new opportunities to artists and designers. We want our students and graduates to lead this monumental shift, advancing and defining this new field, and laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s generations of creative leaders, companies and organizations.

The Computer Animation Department has been working with virtual reality for the last few years in its Game Art major, under the direction of Martin Murphy and has alumni working in VR at places such as Magic Leap, Baobab Studios, Google, Flight School, Hoyt Architecture and Sharecare. The VR major will be its own major, but headed now by Computer Animation department head, Jim McCampbell.

Our students who are enrolled in the VR major will have the opportunity to create experiences for countless industries, including healthcare, advertising, architecture, education, and entertainment. In conjunction with diverse and engaging coursework, such as Visual Scripting and Concept Development for Virtual Worlds, our students will work with studio professionals in the classroom. One exciting partnership is already under development with Flight School—a pioneering company in the VR field, which was started by Emmy and Academy Award-winning alum, Brandon Oldenburg. He and his team are actively working with our faculty to help shape the curriculum, and they will be close mentors to our students, which will prove invaluable.

While schools across the country have been experimenting with VR over the last few years, the new Ringling College major will pioneer and push forward education in the actual creation of immersive virtual experiences, as well as firmly establish and define VR as a viable medium for artists and designers today. Having been distinguished as “the most wired campus” in the country, we pride ourselves on being leaders in the fusion of art and technology, as we early on understood and embraced the idea that the computer was the new paint brush. Thus, Ringling College, I believe, is the absolute perfect place to launch this cutting-edge course of study. The sky is both virtually and really the limit.

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art & Design.

« View The Saturday Oct 28, 2017 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Other Articles in Education

Apr 14, 2018Jacob Ogles

Will Blue Wave Crash Gulf Coast

Aug 26, 2017Jacob Ogles

Can District 72 Swing?

Jul 22, 2017Jacob Ogles

Sarasota's Chance to Get on TV

Jul 22, 2017Tom Barwin

Vibrant Cities - A Boon to Our Region