Elida students use VR to impact real world

·2 min read

May 16—ELIDA — Students in the game design class at Elida High School are working with programming in the world of virtual reality to make a tangible difference in the real world, and their work has garnered the attention of a tech giant.

A camera crew from Meta, Facebook's parent company, was in Mark Suter's game design class Monday and Tuesday to film his class as they worked on creating apps designed for virtual reality headsets, such as the Meta Quest 2. The hope is to use this footage to show various industries that VR can have numerous applications in the world of business.

While these headsets have been seen as portals to immersive gaming apps, Suter's class has demonstrated how this technology can be used in business, specifically when it comes to employee training.

"VR is not just for games, just like computers are not just for games," Suter said. "Over half of the companies in the US are already using VR or are planning on using VR in some way in their company. So when we looked at that, we decided to make real-world VR apps, basically prototypes for local companies and factories so they can dip their toes into VR development and see what it might look like to implement it at no cost to them. It gives the students a great experience."

Rather than simply watching a video or getting verbal instructions on how to work with equipment on the job site or performing required tasks, working in VR can help new employees get hands-on, so to speak, experience before doing the real thing. Suter's class has already created an injection-molding training simulation for Bluffton-based manufacturer SumiRiko as well as one for the Tom Ahl Family of Dealerships, working with their service department in creating a simulation on how to change a brake pad.

"We approached them and they were kind enough to give us a little bit of their time for me to take videos of how they change brakes in the shop, and then we brought that video back here and used it to create our VR app," Suter said.

Students in the program, including Elida senior Max Tieu, have enjoyed taking on this new challenge, getting the opportunity to learn business skills such as working with a client and responding to that client's needs. Having the opportunity to make a real-world difference, even in a virtual way, means a lot to the students.

"I'm very proud that I have this opportunity that Mr. Suter gave to me to work on something that will impact the real world," Tieu said. "When I heard about it, I jumped on the opportunity because it's something that I'd like to do rather than just learning in classes."

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.