The IVRC had the pleasure of meeting with Congressman Mike Simpson and his staff on Wednesday, April 12th. Congressman Simpson was in Idaho during the two week Congressional recess and we were fortunate to snag thirty minutes of his time while he was here.
We wanted to ensure that Congressman Simpson and staff had the full VR experience so we brought the HTC Vive and set-up in his office. Luckily his staff was gracious enough to let us take over their large conference room thirty minutes prior to the meeting so we could ensure the experiences went off without a hitch. Once everyone arrived we spent about fifteen minutes running Congressman Simpson and two of his staffers through several experiences. We eased them in with theBlu (always a hit) and decided to test their skills with Job Simulator. We didn’t quite know what to expect or if they would enjoy it, but we shouldn’t have been concerned. Once they were in we had a hard time getting them out! Congressman Simpson picked up the gist of Job Simulator immediately and was cracking everyone up with his cooking skills. At one point he said, “Nikki, you’ve got to try this!” (Nikki had just as much fun.)
It wasn’t just fun and games in VR though. After they had some time in the experiences we got a bit more serious and Ryan DeLuca, IVRC Board Chair went through a presentation outlining the the VR/AR industry and growth projections. We also gave examples of the various industries where this emerging technology can and is having a real impact. We had a great discussion around this and there was a lot of, “I bet this would be really useful in” comments. Our discussion was so lively that we ran over into Congressman Simpson’s next meeting. We did however have enough time to let him know what the Idaho Virtual Reality Council is doing, why we exist, what companies are doing in Idaho and what we hope to achieve.
We ended the meeting on a high note and invited the staffers that weren’t able to try the VR experiences in the meeting over to the IVRC office to try it. We look forward to continued conversation with Congressman Simpson and his staff and have some great ideas that came out of the meeting that we are eager to move forward with in the near future!
About Congressman Simpson:
Michael (Mike) K. Simpson is serving his tenth term in the House of Representatives for Idaho’s Second Congressional District.
Mike serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He is the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. He also serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee and the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. These committees have jurisdiction over funding for a number of programs critical to Idaho, including the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, our National Parks, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Smithsonian Institute.
Simpson is one of the House’s leading advocates for a new energy policy and a renewed commitment to research and development of improved nuclear energy technologies. Mike has also gained national attention for his bill to split the massive, overburdened 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as well as his Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act which addresses the concerns of economic growth and stability for rural Idaho and resolves long time wilderness debate over the Boulder-White Clouds and was signed into law in August of 2015.
His political career began in 1980, when he was elected to the Blackfoot City Council. In 1984, he was elected to the Idaho Legislature where he served until 1998, the last six years serving as Speaker. Simpson was born in Burley, Idaho and raised in Blackfoot. He graduated from Utah State University and earned his DMD from Washington University School of Dental Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduation, he joined his father and uncle at the Simpson Family Dental Practice in Blackfoot.
Mike is an avid golfer and enjoys painting. He has been married to his wife Kathy for over 40 years and they live in Idaho Falls.