The University of Michigan recently announced plans to launch an augmented, virtual and mixed reality (AVMR) graduate certificate program, spanning fourteen schools, colleges and offices, and involving thirty-two faculty members. U-M is also offering opportunities for corporate partners’ involvement, led by the Business Engagement Center.
“We have the health sciences. We are a top engineering college with proximity to one of the world’s greatest manufacturing centers. We’ve got an entertainment venue, Michigan Stadium, where we can play to live audiences of 100,000 seven times a year,” said Thomas A. Finholt, dean of the School of Information. “So, we are a very rich environment for producers of AR, VR and MR technology. We’re also a top research institution. We combine these things, and that combination is not present in very many other universities.”
The initiative also calls for the construction of a network of AVMR labs for for experiential learning, research collaborations, and prototyping and simulation. It plans to create opportunities for students without technical backgrounds to train in AVMR technologies – citing the need for more professionals in this field due to the difficulties faced by major content producers, such as Disney, in finding talented graduates capable of working on the AVMR field.
“I work with a lot of talented and motivated students that are keen on creating AR/VR user experiences,” said Michael Nebeling, assistant professor of information and director of the university’s Information Interaction Lab. “But the technical and design skills required to work with these technologies are significant. Most students, and frankly even most professional designers, currently don’t have the necessary theory and training, let alone the tools, to create AVMR interfaces.”