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The Office of Undergraduate Research hosts an annual research festival where students from Abilene college campuses come together to share their scholarly presentations or creative projects. As an opportunity to experience the learning advantages of research, many students merge their passions, interests, and future career paths to develop outstanding presentations. This year, the members of the DET club decided to create a virtual reality experience to explore new learning methods for memory and retention. 

Alissa Davis, Alison Meador, Adrianna Mott, Camila Rodrigues and Jael Morel came together to develop “The Hall of Stories”, an immersive virtual reality experience composed of several classical stories. The authors of this research paper described, “The goal of the project is to transport us back to our childhood and to be able to live inside some of the scenes that formed part of our life.” Through virtual reality integration and game development, these students built scenes from scratch to create a realistic experience. In the future, they believe that this could contribute to the practical learning of history by creating similar scenes of historical events such as World War II. Camila Rodrigues, DET student and contributor said, “This was a great opportunity to build my portfolio for grad school and see the potential of immersive experience research to be adapted for e-learning.” 

The process to develop this project remotely presented a few challenges that these students had to work together to overcome. Using programs Substance: Designer & Painter as well as Photoshop, they began the process with the 3D modeling of all the assets, created realistic textures for the environment and then imported everything into Unity 3D game engine. Since the students were not able to use the equipment from their department, it created challenges. Jael Morel commented, “Not being able to work together and using computers that were not properly equipped was very challenging. It is hard to work on a cloud software where one simple mistake can mess up everything. It was also hard to delegate what tasks and roles each person would take.”

Despite all the obstacles, this team of students successfully developed a VR immersive experience which they presented virtually in the Undergraduate Research Festival. The process was an opportunity for these students to grow their skill set, learn more about research, and collaborate with peers in their field. 

To see the highlights from the Undergraduate Research Festival, click here.