Virtual/augmented reality minor added in Dodge

The virtual world is becoming a reality at Chapman this fall, as a new virtual reality and augmented reality minor will join the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts next semester.

virtual reality

SoKrispyMedia, the company of former Virtual Reality Club President Sam Wickert, posted “Chalk Warfare 3.0” on YouTube. The video has accrued more than 22 million views in the past four years.

“This is going to be a gigantic market,” said Bill Kroyer, the director of Dodge’s digital arts program.

Based on the revenue estimates from industry analyst company Digi-Capital, the augmented and virtual reality market is projected to make up to $110 billion in new businesses in the next three years, Kroyer said. Virtual reality is a computer-generated experience, while augmented reality incorporates digital images into a user’s view of the real world.

“Our visual effects grads are making in the $70,000 range to start,” Kroyer said. “It’s going to affect every industry and the way we do almost everything.”

The minor will be a part of the Institute for Creative Reality (ICR), which was founded by Kroyer and professors Dan Leonard, Eric Young, Roy Finch and Madeline Warren. Warren first introduced the idea for the new minor last year because digital art students wanted to learn more about virtual and augmented reality, Kroyer said.

The minor was developed with consultation from Michael Fahy, associate dean and chief technology officer, and Roy Taylor, the corporate vice president of Radeon Technologies, a company that develops high-speed graphics processing units for use in virtual reality and video game creation.

Seven courses will be offered, including visual programming, spatial audio design, immersive cinematography, the landscape of emerging media, and introduction to entrepreneurship. The application deadline for the new minor is March 1 and can be found on the Dodge College website.

Kroyer says there is no definite salary estimate for those working to complete the minor since it is new.

“(Virtual and augmented reality are) clearly a booming part of the industry and a place that content is increasingly being produced in,” said Brandon Ptasznik, a freshman creative producing major. “It’s comforting to know that Dodge is trying to stay at the forefront of this ever-changing industry.”

The interest in finding employees with virtual reality experience has increased exponentially, just in the past year alone.

More virtual reality jobs were posted in the first quarter of 2016 than in all of 2015, according to a 2016 article from Forbes. Companies that tend to have open positions for virtual reality jobs include Samsung, Google, IBM, Facebook and Apple.

Sam Wickert, the former president of Chapman’s Virtual Reality Club and a student in the digital arts program at Dodge, has been on leave from school for the past year to pursue his passion in virtual reality.

Wickert works full time on three virtual reality projects with Google through his company, SoKrispyMedia, and producing partner Madison Wells Media.

“The minor will be great for students interested in the field of virtual and augmented reality, including people interested in real-time rendering,” Wickert said. “I hope to see the new minor inspire any new students interested in (virtual and augmented reality) and provide them with a unique set of classes to test and learn more about the new digital space.”

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