We made solid progress toward our goal of integrating XR into courses across the curriculum.
Kate Phillips ʼ15
Associate professor, Writing, Speaking & Argument Program
How do you reconcile conflicting input? What do you do when you’re
sitting in a chair, but your brain is so convinced you’re on a rollercoaster that your heart
These are questions Professor Phillips was thinking about in the summer of 2021 while
designing a new course on the topic of “uncertainty.”
Phillips, who has a PhD in philosophy, was curious how the experience of XR—when you are
fully immersed in a virtual world—changes your perception of reality and what you know to be
true. At that point, she was new to virtual reality (VR), having recently tried a Meta Quest
headset for the first time. So, she reached out to Studio X.
During the first week of the fall semester, only days after we received our certificate of
occupancy for the space (and still waiting on much of our technology), Phillips’s class came
to Studio X for an Intro to XR session with immersive technologies librarian Meaghan Moody.
Her students returned the following week for additional experimentation.
That intro session was only the start of Phillips’ relationship with Studio X.
In January 2022, Phillips proposed a reading group to discuss Reality +: Virtual Worlds and
the Problems of Philosophy by leading philosopher of consciousness and mind David
With support from the Humanities
Center and River Campus Libraries, she purchased books and
led sessions in Studio X. Faculty and staff members and undergraduate and graduate students
from across the University and the Rochester Institute of Technology participated in the
group. Based on Phillips’ interest in the book, we invited the author to present at Voices
of XR, a Studio X speaker series that brings immersive technology scholars and
to Rochester, made possible by University Life Trustee Kathy McMorran Murray ʼ74 and
National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program and co-hosted by the Gwen M. Greene
Center for Career Education. More than 50 people attended Chalmers’ talk.
Phillips continues to work with us each semester, introducing her students to different ways
of thinking, learning, and experiencing.
Noah Pines ’20
Graduate student, Optics
Pines’ introduction to Studio X occurred when it was still a concept. When he was still an
undergraduate student, he participated in a charrette session, where he provided feedback on
the space’s future design. After graduating, as a graduate student in the optics program, he
participated in the interdisciplinary National Science Foundation-funded VR training
program, in which he attended one of our workshops and started learning about our
Later, we ended up purchasing a hologram tablet that he requested for his research. It's
also worth noting that Pines was the champion of our Inaugural Beat Saber competition.
Noah Pines ’20 discusses his Studio X journey.
Assistant professor, Computer Science
Professor Bai teaches an upper-level undergraduate and graduate course on AR/VR interaction
design that gives students a fundamental understanding of XR technologies and the
opportunity to use
them to solve real-world problems. The course culminates in a working XR prototype created
in small groups. Bai shared that before Studio X, her students had difficulty developing VR
projects due to a lack of access to VR headsets. Her students also struggled with the steep
learning curve of the software, and lower-level courses did not adequately prepare students
for XR development. In the fall of 2021, Bai collaborated with us and brought her class in
for several sessions:
- Intro to XR workshop
- Intro to Unity workshop
- Intro to Unity & VR workshop
- Paper and Mixed Materials Prototyping
- Intro to 3D Sound with Professor Ming-Lun Lee
- Final Project Showcase
Since working with her class last fall, Bai has collaborated with us in a variety of ways.
She identified and hosted speakers for Voices of XR, gave a talk on XR design for human
diversity for our pre-college program, and consulted with us on potential research projects
with other faculty members. Additionally, Haochen Zeng ʼ22 (e5), an XR specialist, worked
her lab this summer on a research project involving the Microsoft HoloLens. We will continue
to work with her class each fall semester.
Xiaofei Zhou discusses her experience with Studio X as a graduate
Haochen Zeng ’23 (e5)
Undergraduate student, Computer Science
Zeng joined Studio X as one of our first XR Specialists in the fall of 2021. He is a computer
science major studying in his fifth year through the e5 program through
the Ain Center for
Entrepreneurship and Innovation. For his e5 project, Zeng plans to build an
of the River Campus for international students who can’t visit in person. In the past year
he has received a Discover
Grant to work on two
projects and helped with
the XR Pre-College Program. In addition to his responsibilities as an XR specialist, he’s
serving as a teaching assistant for Professor Zhen Bai’s AR/VR Interaction Design course.
PhD candidate, Health Professions Education
Physician and faculty member at the Alexandria University of Egypt, Alieldin is pursuing a
PhD in health professions education at the Warner School of Education. Her dissertation
focuses on VR as an empathy training tool for medical students. Throughout her research and
advocacy for immersive training for healthcare professionals, Alieldin has consulted with
Studio X staff and borrowed equipment such as the Meta Quest 2 VR
headsets and the Microsoft
HoloLens. She also presented on her research during a Studio X Drop-In Friday, which is
weekly opportunity for the University community to enjoy XR through informal experiences,
including talks, workshops, and demonstrations.
XR Pre-college Program
In the summer, Studio X hosted a dozen juniors and seniors from across the country for our
inaugural XR Content Creation and World Building Program. Over the course of two weeks, for
three hours each day, the
Studio X team led students through the fundamentals of 3D modeling and game design with the
goal of creating a mini VR game. The plan was ambitious for several reasons: students had
minimal exposure to XR tools and technology, and they could not use their own computers to
run the performance-heavy software reliably.
Led by undergraduate Liam O’Leary ’23, Studio X staff experimented, reorganized, and ran
tests to prepare for the students’ arrival. O’Leary also built his own mini VR game as a
sandbox project for students to engage and customize. In addition to the hands-on
skill-building workshops, students also participated in a design-thinking exercise to
brainstorm their game concepts, attended a talk on XR design for human diversity from
Professor Zhen Bai, and took part in a group reading and discussion on ethics and inclusion
for XR. At the end of the two weeks, students presented on their games,
custom assets and unique storytelling.