CSUMB “Game Jam” Introduces Virtual Reality to First Generation Students

SEASIDE, Calif. June 15, 2017 – Virtual Reality (VR) is considered to be the next transformative technology, not only for games but for practical applications in medicine and architecture. In order for this technology to evolve, you need to expose the future developers, the students who could someday conceptualize and create VR applications.

25 students from the Central Valley Upward Bound Program explore CSUMB's VR lab

Students from the Central Valley Upward Bound Program explore CSUMB's VR lab Monday, June 12

CSUMB is exposing local students to this technology through the University’s first-ever VR “Game Jam” event, scheduled the week of June 12-16 in the Gambord Business and Information Technology (BIT) Building. Funded through the Title V grant, “Game Jam” brings students together from Gavilan, Hartnell and Monterey Peninsula community colleges. These students work in teams of three to four people, advised by a CSUMB student, and work all week to develop a game or application utilizing VR technology. For many, it’s the first exposure to the technology.

“Programs like ‘Game Jam’ open up an entire new world for these students, increasing awareness of the new technology, and ultimately increasing transfer and enrollment rate,” said Bude Su, professor and chair of the School of Computing and Design.
25 students from the Central Valley Upward Bound Program explore CSUMB's VR lab

Students from the Central Valley Upward Bound Program explore CSUMB's VR lab Monday, June 12

The event has not only inspired community college level students. Earlier this week, first-generation high school students from the Central Valley participating in the Upward Bound program stopped by CSUMB and interacted with ‘Game Jam’ students and the VR technology. Much of the VR lab, which is extensive for a university, has been funded through private donations.

"The first step toward change is awareness, and underserved populations need early exposure to these emerging technologies to utilize them later," Su said.

The daily activities of ‘Game Jam’ event are being mentored by Krzysztof Pietroszek, assistant professor, and Pat Watson, a lecturer in the School of Computing and Design. At the end of the week, the VR projects will be evaluated and scored by Pietroszek and Watson. Awards will be presented for the best project on Friday, June 16th at 1 p.m. in room 235 of the Gambord BIT Building.