• Cutting Edge

How UT Austin is helping students, staff embrace VR

On the Cutting EDge podcast, the founding director of the Texas Immersive Institute at the University of Texas at Austin says she’s working to help make virtual reality — and other similar technologies — accessible for students and faculty at the university.

Erin Reilly, the institute’s director, says the Immersive Institute is designed to help students understand topics in different ways, through better storytelling and other more visual opportunities presented by reality augmentation. 

Earlier this summer, students from UT Austin’s medical school came to the institute to work on Solar Run — a project that evaluates the efficacy of protective measures against skin cancer. Working in collaboration with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, students were able to see the effects protective measures like sunscreen have over time in an augmented reality environment. 

“The students are gravitating towards it because we are so open-ended,” Reilly says. “We give them the frameworks and knowledge of looking at audiences differently, or thinking about how narrative design and storytelling can really be brought back to your industry.”

The institute was founded two years, and has graduated three cohorts of students. 

“Our mission is to provide access to emerging technology and research, and to design immersive experiences,” Reilly says. “Our goal is to use new forms of storytelling to share solutions to big problems that are both responsive, responsible and remarkable.”

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Cutting Edge


Every two weeks, the Cutting EDge Podcast will bring you the latest in higher education technology news and analysis. The program will explore trending topics in depth and highlight news across the campus IT landscape. Each episode will feature conversations with top executives across higher education on things like hybrid learning, emerging technology, cybersecurity and modernization.

Hosted by Jake Williams

Jake Williams is the vice president of content and community for StateScoop & EdScoop at Scoop News Group. Williams has spent nearly a decade in the government IT market, covering the ins-and-outs of state and local government as well as higher education. Williams started his journalism career in regional journalism in his native Pennsylvania, and also worked as a reporter for Campaigns & Elections magazine.