How do you lead a student team with no experience in virtual reality to start doing the work in a field that hasn’t been fully explored?
I think this a great opportunity and unique challenge. There is a balance between letting the group rest in the little they know and expand the field with new ideas. I work on the outside of this virtual reality team making sure they have everything they need without getting in their way. I could help build the experience but I am a Unity user and they chose to use Unreal Engine but that’s not a problem.
The team has about 10 members who had little to no experience in gaming development before the start of school in August. But they all had interest and where willing to learn. Then I had to give them a project. With the idea of creating something cool around space and the movies that were coming out at the time it was decided to build a Mars experience.
Looking online there are videos popping up of virtual reality demonstrations and some resources are out for augmented reality but not in the way that there is for gaming design. That makes the task challenging but not impossible. The team was able to use existing gaming tutorials but change the focus to how would this better suit a virtual reality experience. Below is an example of what this team built within their first few weeks of training.
Another one of my jobs working behind the scenes is to provide an audience for these virtual reality experiences. This helps the team feel like its important work and gives them a chance to show it off. When the team put together a demonstration of their skills by creating a space museum we took it to a big science and engineering fair. This experience combined with a few other virtual reality experience we had on deck allowed us to give 1,000 demonstrations. Now the team is on the roll. And I want them to keep pushing the envelope and get us to our final goal of creating an immersive Mars virtual reality experience.