K-State Salina unveils new extended reality lab

MANHATTAN — Students studying computer science and virtual reality at Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus now have a highly advanced educational space that utilizes ultramodern technology: a new extended reality, or XR, lab space.

The new extended reality lab, or Immersive Technology Classroom, combines virtual, physical and augmented reality technology that students will utilize to elevate their education. The facility features an immersive video wall showing multiple views from several different devices and an immersive audio system built into the room to provide a much more functional space for students.

XR has a wide range of applications in various fields, including education, entertainment, health care, engineering and many more. It allows users to experience and interact with virtual objects and environments naturally and intuitively, leading to new possibilities in education, training and research.

According to Michael Oetken, assistant professor of integrated studies, the new space will provide numerous opportunities for students in programs like computer systems technology, digital media technology, machine learning and autonomous systems, and web development technology. It will also allow curriculums on campus and other industries to collaborate in the XR lab.

“The new XR lab will focus on junior and senior level capstone courses with the utilization of virtual reality,” Oetken said. “The space will provide more capabilities for advanced technologies that students can work and research. We will be able to make immersive technologies span across multiple K-State Salina curriculums where students in other programs can also get involved.”

The new XR lab features all-new equipment, including untethered XR systems, such as Oculus Quest Pro, Varjo products, Ultraleap products and the HTC XR Elite. This equipment will educate students and prepare them for their future careers.

Michael Pritchard, associate dean of research and graduate studies at K-State Salina, said the space will not only be utilized as a classroom where students learn about the theory behind the technology, but it will also be a space where applied projects lead to real-world products.

“This space is used to push the boundaries of cybernetic and cyber human systems research,” said Pritchard. “The new lab and equipment have expanded our ability to develop cognitive processing research across a variety of human-to-machine teaming scenarios. We are engaged with industry on multiple cyber human systems projects, which illustrates that our work in the new XR lab sets our campus apart from many of our counterparts.”

The new K-State Salina XR lab is funded by the KSU Foundation’s “Flip the Classroom” initiative.

Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttp://www.sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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