Sandwiched between Cheney Hall, the Science Building and the Computing and Engineering Building is a small storage structure that in recent years has come to lead something of a double life: mundane maintenance facility on the inside; transformative space for student art on the outside.
The current display on the walls of this ‘Inside-Outside Gallery’ is something the Eastern campus hasn’t seen before: an augmented reality display. Twenty-five visual communication design (VCD) students put together the interactive exhibition and revealed it to campus last week.
Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world. Remember the Pokémon GO phenomenon? That is an augmented reality game.
The display on the EWU campus was designed to both entertain and inform current and prospective students. The idea came to Travis Masingale, an associate professor of visual communication design, after years of watching campus tours. “They come up here, the parents are usually bored by the time they get up on this platform, the students are usually tuning out as well. So, the thought was, what if we gave them something to do to show how cool Eastern was?”
To complete the project, the class broke into six groups. Each focused on a category featured on EWU’s Interactive Program Explorer webpage, which helps prospective students choose their field of study. Each of the six groups created individual augmented reality elements that were inspired by the program explorer’s six career categories: creators, doers, helpers, organizers, persuaders and thinkers.
The augmented reality elements highlight the university and the VCD program, says student Danielle Flinn, project manager for the assignment. “We wanted to show how great of a community we have in the VCD program and just how anybody can really come in and find a home and a community on Eastern’s campus.”
With the use of a smartphone app, users zone in on icons affixed to the walls of the gallery. When properly aligned, the app uploads and plays fun videos, student testimonials, links to further explore programs or even apply to EWU.
Visitors to campus aren’t the only beneficiaries, project participants say. Everyone in the class had an invaluable experience.
“It really had all aspects of design: the artistic portion, the production portion and the advertising,” says Maddie Stiles, a visual communication design student in the class. “Plus, this new portion of design, emergent design, that none of us had ever had any experience with.”
“It’s going to be awesome for all of these students to put this into their portfolio and say they helped with it,” adds Flinn. “Not a lot of people have that. It will definitely help our students stand out when they go looking for jobs.”
There are no immediate plans for the next display, but Masingale says the possibilities are endless: from perhaps featuring more academic programs to promoting the football team in the fall. But as this spring-quarter class prepares to wrap up, he says he is proud of how this group tackled the project as a team.
“The class overall voted to not do peer evaluations,” he says, “because they really felt like everyone chipped in and really felt like there was equity.”