New Worlds Await Students in Virtual Reality Program

picture of an animation student working on a computer
By Mike Taylor

September 06, 2018 - 02:55 PM

The world is your oyster, figuratively that is, with Mt. SAC’s new Virtual Reality Designer Program.

This fall, the program is being offered at Mt. SAC for the first time, and Mt. SAC, in turn, is one of the first community colleges to ever offer this type of program.

“We are definitely one of the first,” said Mt. SAC Animation and Gaming Professor Sunil Thankamushy.

And while virtual reality programs currently exist at university campuses such UCLA and USC, Mt. SAC is ushering in a new curriculum for community colleges while riding the crest of one of the newest technological waves of the 21st Century that has really just taken off in the past three years.

“It’s a new way of expression that’s very solid,” said Thankamushy.

The Virtual Reality Designer Certificate is a 27-unit, nine-course program being offered under the auspices of the college’s Animation Program. Fifty students are enrolled in the first classes this fall, and courses run the gamut from “Building Worlds in Virtual Reality” to  “Intro to 3D Modeling,” and “Game Prototype Production.”

Once students complete the program, they are qualified to become virtual reality developers, who might work for gaming companies or marketing companies. But the practical application extends far beyond those fields.

“We tell students they can apply these virtual reality skills to whatever field they are in,” he said.

In fields as diverse as medicine to auto design and architect to retail sales, virtual reality models can play an important role.

“Nearly any area can use virtual reality to enhance things,” said Thankamushy. “In real estate, for example, realtors can give potential buyers virtual tours of properties,” he said.

One of the truly fascinating adaptations of virtual reality design comes across quite vividly through art, whereby the designer creates, say, a painting or sculpture in a 3D world. The result is breathtaking and a little surreal.

Projections are that the demand for virtual reality experts will grow. Some of job titles for the field include virtual reality developer, virtual reality specialist, junior designer, game designer, and virtual reality artist.

Meanwhile, the founders of Mt. SAC’s program are betting on a bright future for virtual reality as well.

For more information on Mt. SAC’s Virtual Reality Program, call Professor Thankamushy at (909) 274-4451.