By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 10, 2024.
The Lethbridge College Spatial Technologies Applied Research and Training (START) Centre will be taking part in a highly competitive event this spring with other post-secondary institutions across Alberta to provide high school students an opportunity to explore the world of virtual reality.
Industry liaison and research advisor in START, Mike McCready said the event will be called Hack and Seek:Alberta XR Career Quest, where XR stands for extended reality.
“This event is going to be happening at Lethbridge College, Bow Valley College and NAIT on May 3 to 5 this year. The idea and inspiration for this event is from when I attended the MIT hackathon in 2020,” said McCready
Â He said they are hoping to open the eyes of the potential of extended reality (XR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) to high school students as a career path.
Â “To come together for a weekend to be able to develop a VR application in teams of three that will solve a potential real-world problem,” said McCready.
Â He explained that one area where VR is being used to solve a real-world problem is in the area of training for potentially dangerous situations.
Â “Training might be a little dangerous in the physical world, and virtual reality can allow people to do that training in a in a safe, but realistic environment,” said McCready.
Â He said this experience will allow students to be exposed to new technology, new skills and to connect with post-secondaries and industry throughout Alberta, because industry will be mentoring and judging the projects as well as helping the students through that weekend.
Â “The theme that we are presenting to the students is going to be given to them at the hackathon, but we’ll be potentially looking at training as a big option for them to work on,” said McCready.
He said any student in Alberta between Grade 10 and Grade 12 can apply to take part of the event and the event will be Alberta’s first provincial XR hackathon. Â
To apply, students are asked to write about a VR application and briefly explain why they think it’s interesting, what excites them about VR, why they think it’s an effective technology and what they hope to learn by participating in the event.
Â The 90 students selected to compete will be given access to three online training workshops to help them prepare for the hackathon.
Teams will present their app to a panel of industry experts who will select a winner and award them a $4,000 grand prize, to be split among the winning team members.
Hack and Seek applications are being accepted until March 11 atÂ lethbridgecollege.ca/hackandseek.