Ringling VR to Graduate First Class

Guest Correspondence

What does the future look like? While none of us can answer that question with any degree of certainty, one thing we do know is that virtual reality will be an integral part of that future – and that future is already here. 

Graduating from the world’s first full-time Virtual Reality Development department, Ringling graduates will be at the forefront of this emerging technology, creating lifelike experiences that are already changing the face of health care, architecture, the military, entertainment, and much more. Students will learn the basics of this new technology, while being pushed to create groundbreaking work and experiences in a medium that is evolving every day. 

“Our VR students are stepping into a new and uncharted metaverse where immersive media will become the new norm and transform the way we do business and approach problem solving,” said Morgan Woolverton, interim department head for Virtual Reality Development at Ringling College. “One of the most exciting aspects of VR technology is how new exploration spaces will be invented. Old and well-understood industries will become reinvented with an entirely new lens. Our students are already seeing this robust landscape of opportunity.” 

In fact, Ringling College of Art and Design and Tampa’s renowned Moffitt Cancer Center are already partnering to bring the benefits of VR to those living with cancer.

“The collaboration with Ringling College is focusing on the patient journey and how we can create meaningful tools to help decrease stress, enhance understanding of upcoming treatments, and connect patients to survivor stories so they don’t feel so alone,” said Dr. Sarah Hoffe, Moffitt’s section head of Gastrointestinal Radiation Oncology.

Using virtual reality, the two institutions are developing creative content for digital health care technologies. Together, the Virtual Reality Department and Moffitt Cancer Center are creatively finding clever and groundbreaking ways to improve the patient’s experience.

Both virtual and augmented reality use continues to grow at a staggering rate. Recent statistics show that the combined augmented reality and virtual reality markets were worth $12 billion in 2020, with a massive annual growth rate of 54 percent. This resulted in a projected value of $72.8 billion by 2024 (IDC, 2020). According to eMarketer, the number of VR users in the United States is 57.4 million; the number of AR users is 90.9 million.

Ringling College will graduate its first class of Virtual Reality Development students this spring, many of whom are already starting to earn their place in this burgeoning profession. “The work they are producing is fresh, precise, and forward-looking,” said Morgan. “They are poised to graduate with a unique, sophisticated skill set that also places emphasis on human-centered design.” The professional world will be open to them as they may work as content producers, software engineers, AR and VR content writers, product managers, and so much more.

Soon enough, virtual and immersive realities will be commonplace. They will be part of our every-day lives both at home and in the workplace. These days it seems as though the “future” is coming faster than it ever has before. Ringling College students are ready— are you?

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

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