As an attendee with little knowledge in the field, I was expecting to have a day full of complicated acronyms, perplexing technological jargon, and all around, plain confusion. Yet, I found that I wasn’t confused, but rather, inspired. We marched onto Villanova’s campus and into the Connelly Centre to set up. After helping, I separated from my team to join a group heading to the VR Cave at approximately 9:45 AM sharp. The room appeared to be constructed as an open box platform/stage.  Two tech-savy students gave us an introduction and handed each of us a pair of glasses. My eyes widened with awe as I stared at what was in front of me: I was flying over Jerusalem and seeing what appeared to be the Old City! Thoughts of the implications of VR began racing through my head- the possibilities seemed endless. The two young men discussed it’s uses in education, architecture, technology and even in biomedical research.  This demo had incited excitement in me for what the rest of the day was to bring.

Another highlight of the day was getting to run our Tech-it-Out panel, “She Came She STEMmed, She conquered”. Being able to participate in and help organize this session really was quite an honor because the aim was to inspire the main targeted audience- young women- and to interest them in the field. We brought in 4 highly successful, young women to come in and share their journeys they each had taken to get into the positions they were in currently. I was given the role of asking them questions, making commentary on their answers, and then helping to engage and lead the audience into participation (except that didn’t take much difficulty, at all). So many were interested in what the women had to say- an hour didn’t even seem like enough time!

For the last part of the day, I stumbled upon a session called “Remediating the Science Documentary for Cinematic Virtual Reality.”  A woman by the name of Valentina Feldman, an Immersive Media Producer at Drexel University, blew me away with her work. She discussed her one year long heavy task of producing a VR documentary on the prehistoric creature, the Dreadnoughtus schrani– one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered. She pulled in all the ropes: she started from the very basics of research on the creature (it’s size, it’s relatives, etc)  to creating 3D models of it’s structure and consulting professionals (even some employed with Pixar) on the designing of it’s movements. When asked why she chose this specific creature she explained how VR could be used to give us a visual of things that may be difficult to illustrate or see. For example, she told us that this dinosaur was equivalent to the weight and size of 12 African elephants, which is quite unbelievable to imagine or even picture.  She presented her final product to museums and even explained her experiences in getting to present it to families and children of all ages. She even gave us a video demo on what the final product looked like and I was more than impressed with her efforts.

As a young individual present in this time of technological advancement, I feel so lucky to be a witness of this transition into a “new world of reality”. I feel privileged to think that I was able to listen in and see something that could be implemented and used in my day to day life or even in the lives of generations after me. I am more than thankful for this opportunity and to those who helped put together this day.

Event Recap by Caoimhe McCrory