VT research project allows people to experience life during World War I

Project shown to the public at ICAT Creativity & Innovation Day

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Virginia Tech students and faculty are bringing history to life. 

The university's Institute of Creativity, Arts, and Technology hosted Creativity and Innovation day.   It's when researchers working together  in different fields unveil projects they've been working on all year. 

80 different projects were on display at the Moss Arts Center, one of the them uses technology, art, engineering, to take people back in time to the middle of World War I.   That's where you will find Professor Jay Wilkins.  He's stepping through dark tunnels. 

"It was very realisitic," laughs, a Virginia Tech math education professor.

Set up with his goggles and sensor in hand, Wilkins is guided through history.  He's in Vauquois, a French village destroyed by World War I.

"I think it's wonderful," said Wilkins

Jay's war experience is set up by researcher at Virginia Tech.  It was a partnership funded by ICAT, the university's Institute of Creativity, Arts, and Technology.

 "We really wanted to create a experience that could get people engage--any one from an armchair historian to a school child," said Todd Ogle of Virginia Tech.

"You can go through the tunnels and they have bunk rooms, they had rooms for kitchens, they have a hospital," Daniel Newcomb, graduate student at Virginia Tech.

They've been working on this mixed reality project for a year.  They traveled to the actual village.  They photographed and measured the tunnels and translated it into a virtual experience.  They also gathered hundreds of photographs and letters and present them in a 360 degree cyclorama.  It's all to fully immerse people in history.

"When you are able to use technology and bring the lived experience of soldiers into the classroom, and also give it context, it makes history much more meaningful,"  said Newcomb. 

The researchers hope to bring this technology to museums and classrooms.  It's technology, Jay wished he has when he was a student.

" It was just all in the books.  You just memorized stuff, the dates and times. This is real history," said Wilkins. 

The researchers hope to have it ready for the public by fall.
 


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