BSU Professor and Student Go to Oculus

By May 21, 2018Education, Featured

Earlier this past month Boise State’s Dr. Cutchin, an Associate Professor of Computer Science, was invited to the Facebook HQ Campus from April 12th - 13th in Menlo Park, CA to attend the Oculus workshop. One of Dr. Cutchin’s freshman students, Tevi Kohn, also received an invitation to join the workshop for the Oculus NextGen program. The pair were able to participate on the Oculus NextGen Group livestream via Facebook, and Tevi (19) had the amazing chance to present his computer graphics virtual reality application to the Vice President of Creative Development for Oculus, who was impressed with Tevi’s work. We were so excited about the opportunity presented to Dr. Cutchin and Tevi, that we wanted to learn more about their experience and interviewed them. Here's an excerpt from my interview with Dr. Cutchin.

Cat - So how many of your students went to this event with you? How did you, and your students, get invited?
Dr. Cutchin - One student, Tavi Kohn, was invited to the event. It was an invitation only event. He had to apply and his project was reviewed before acceptance.
Cat - How did Kohn get the opportunity to present their work to the VP of Creative Development?
Dr. Cutchin - The VP of Creative Development attended the event and talked with many of the presenters. He was particularly struck by Tavi's work and it reminded him of work he had seen from John Carmack the Oculus CTO.
Cat - What was the experience like for you and your students?
Dr. Cutchin - The experience was very good. I got to meet quite a few other faculty working in Virtual Reality and learn what other universities were doing with their programs. Tavi got to meet and interact with a wide array of students in similar programs who were doing work like what he is doing. Plus he got a tour of the Facebook campus and he got to learn about how Oculus recruits students to work at Oculus.

And here is a short excerpt on my interview with Tavi.

Cat - What are your goals and aspirations?
Tavi - I want to build software or games that can be useful or appreciated by as many people as possible. This is partially why I look up to companies such as Blizzard, Riot Games, Google, Apple, and Facebook. I like building useful things, and for me programming is one of the best ways to do that. Because of this, I eventually want to do some game development in the future, or build tooling for game development or other programming disciplines
Cat - What was this experience like for you, and what was it like to present your work to the VP?
Tavi - Presenting to other students interested in VR and to Oculus employees (including the Oculus VP of Creative Development) was fun. While I was a little nervous about presenting as a freshman, I’ve had few other chances to show off projects I’ve completed milestones for, and I was able to get some good feedback. Overall, I enjoyed the experience, and it was a great chance to meet other creative people.
Cat - Has this trip changed any of your goals, or has it motivated you even more in the direction you would like to go?
Tavi - While the trip didn’t really change my goals that much, it was motivational to get positive feedback on a project that I started in high school. It’s very cool to have something you work on for a long period of time be appreciated by professionals and other students and I hope to continue developing my project to completion.

It’s clear that BSU’s Department of Computer Science is working on amazing projects involving virtual reality, and students are now being given the opportunity to work on VR with Dr. Cutchin, and you can read more about their involvement HERE. The department was also recently awarded 10 VR headsets designed by Oculus VR and joined the Oculus NextGen VR Research University program, an educational virtual reality program with select partner universities across the nation.

To learn more about joining the Oculus Rift team at Boise State, contact Cutchin at: [email protected]

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