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College of the Arts set to create a VR room from student activity hub

The Department of Visual Arts, which is an inactive cell block at The College of the Arts, Cal State Fullerton, is set to be transformed into a virtual reality (VR) hub. This section, which has not been used for upwards of a decade, will get state-of-the-art VR hardware along with several animation technology instances.

It will be the initial step by the College and a part of its plans to renovate the visual arts section as a whole. The room has continued to be a socialising point for animation and art department students.

Trent Fremont, a major of arts and animation, said that the abandoned room was a less restrictive meeting environment for students. He revealed that students frequent the room in between classes, stressing its popularity.

The institution’s administration and faculty members have now devised a new layout for the block.

Andy Fedak, assistant professor of entertainment arts and an animator, explained that the usefulness of the cell block was not much at present. He and other authority figures plan on making the room useful for students, by introducing interesting activities.

He further revealed that the new layout of the room might contain separate areas, thus making it a multiple-use area. According to him, one side of the space might only contain modern virtual reality machines, while another will contain equipment dedicated to stop motion animation. The remaining area would be used for the purpose of group projects.

Fedak expressed that the common vision is to give art students access to advanced technology resources. He explained that the idea was to give students a better way of learning the things that were being taught in class. According to his observation, most students have not yet explored the workings of advanced virtual reality techniques and mechanisms. He stressed that even in the case of stop motion also, challenges can be faced while finding adequate space.

The College’s 100-strong Pencil Mileage Club currently uses the block for organising officer meetings, and also has considerable history attached to the room. Fremont revealed that the room has various mementos belonging to past club alumni members, along with notable animation history pieces.

Fedak stated that efforts will be made to notify the members of this club regarding the upcoming developments, to help them find suitable storage places for the valuable memorabilia present within the room. He further highlighted that instruction signage was already in place, asking students to remove their personal belongings from the space. He admitted that an actionable plan for clearing the space was still absent.

Dale Merrill, dean at the College of the Arts, stated that the institution is optimistic regarding receiving an external donation to bring about new animation technology implementations. He expressed that obtaining news regarding the grant could take up to six months. This would push the project start date to summer 2019. Plans are also in place to conduct a comprehensive renovation of the visual arts block within the upcoming six years.




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