There is a room in the Center for Arts and Media that is supposed to allow instructors and students to go through lessons in a virtual reality setting. But years after the idea was introduced, the room may never be finished.
The room known as the “Virtual Reality Cave” is located on the southeast end of the South City Campus, next to the film sound stage.
According to communication professor Tyler Smith, the purpose of the space was to provide an immersive environment in which instructors would be able to demonstrate “complex and complicated ideas represented through virtual reality.”
A simple example of this type of instruction would involve automotive students learning to interact with, demonstrate and even deconstruct a virtual car engine, similar to Iron Man.
The initial plans for a virtual reality room were introduced in 2008 after former Salt Lake Community College president Cynthia Bioteau was inspired by another school’s virtual reality capabilities.
The room’s approval and construction has been delayed many times, and as of this article the area remains mostly unfinished.
“SLCC doesn’t create content or software for virtual reality experiences,” says Smith. “Lack of marketing and the cost to maintain such a room are also likely reasons for the delay in completion.”
Another downside to the virtual reality room is that students would not have time to learn how to operate the room in the short time most students spend enrolled at SLCC.
At this time, the plan to finish the project has stalled, leaving the virtual reality room to degrade into a rather expensive storage area.
“There’s not much we can do about the room now, but there are options to consider for the future,” says Smith.
One initial idea for the space was to turn it into a photo studio. Another possible use for the area could be to build a cyclorama — a large curved wall that creates no background, allowing for green screen effects.
But for now, the promise of a sci-fi scholastic experience may never become reality at SLCC.