Bronxites will soon have a way to learn about virtual and augmented reality besides playing Pokémon GO.
A new virtual reality training lab is on its way to CUNY on the Concourse, a branch ofLehman College at 2501 Grand Concourse, where the school will offer an 11-month program starting on April 24 to teach students about topics including 3D graphics, web design and animation.
The college is partnering on the lab with EON Reality, a virtual and augmented reality company based in California, and it will feature equipment including computers, headsets and an immersive virtual reality room called an Icube Mobile, where students can test and experience their projects.
The lab is still being put together but will hold open houses on Feb. 1 and March 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at 2501 Grand Concourse. Tuition for the program will cost $499 for CUNY students and employees and $599 for people applying from outside of CUNY.
"We’re really looking to make this affordable for everyone in this area," said Jane MacKillop, interim dean at Lehman's school of continuing and professional studies.
Once the program starts, it will meet on weeknights from 5 to 9 p.m. and on Saturdays, likely from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Ron Bergmann, vice president for information technology at Lehman College, acknowledged that the program would be demanding but hoped that its schedule on nights and weekends would help more people have time to sign up.
"We think that for people who are working either full or part time—or students, many of whom are part time—that this will fit into their very busy schedules and give them, really, an opportunity to join a very significant industry," he said.
Applications to take the course are open to anyone, regardless of where they live or how old they are, but college officials are particularly interested in people with a background or interest in subjects like computer science, architecture and gaming, as well as students from The Bronx.
Interested students can fill out applications online at lehman.edu/vr. The first three months of the course will focus on creating content and the theory of virtual and augmented reality, while the remaining eight months will focus on lab projects meant to help students become entrepreneurs.
"The first three months are training, and then the remaining eight month are working on projects," said Bergmann. "They could be projects to help the students learn more, and at some point they’ll be working on customer projects."
He hopes the lab calls attention to the burgeoning technology scene in The Bronx and helps it become "part of the tech boom that has been growing in the city and the other boroughs."
Bergmann expects that students in the program will easily be able to find jobs once the course is complete, as he maintains the field of virtual reality is growing rapidly.
"The concept of what this will become, in terms of that every day life, it will probably in many ways replace the cellphones that we're speaking on now," he said.