DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > AR/VR rankings place DePaul among best in the nation

AR/VR rankings place DePaul among best in the nation

The Virtual and Augmented Reality Communication Lab (VARC) houses state-of-the-art equipment for virtual and augmented reality. At the VARC Lab, we want to help people learn how to effectively and ethically communicate in VR and AR.
The Virtual and Augmented Reality Communication Lab houses state-of-the-art equipment for virtual and augmented reality. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
DePaul is one of the top augmented and virtual reality colleges in the U.S., according to recently published rankings from Animation Career Review. Innovative AR/VR programs at both the Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media and the College of Communication fueled the 35th place ranking.

Just launched, CDM’s Jarvis Student Center for Innovation and Collaboration​ boasts a creative extended reality, or XR, studio space for students to ideate projects for VR, AR and mixed reality. 

“Because of the collaborative nature of the Center with all three CDM schools—cinematic arts, computing and design—projects can be as diverse as working on metaverse conceptualizations to prototyping interactions for physical installations," notes Joshua Tsui, director of innovation.

Tsui says he is also exploring adding virtual production prototyping to the space so students can learn and test technology that is changing the filmmaking landscape. Several film and animation students already had the opportunity to work with the emerging tech in a virtual production environment​ at Cinespace last spring.

Across the hall from the Jarvis Center is CDM’s Virtual and Augmented Design Lab, where faculty and students work collaboratively on projects utilizing the latest hardware, including HTC Vives, Oculus Quests, iPhones and a 24" Cintiq Pro. The lab, directed by Brian Schrank, provides dedicated spaces for experimental development, such as mixed reality installations, and playtesting.

Meanwhile, students and faculty in the College of Communication’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Communication Lab learn how to communicate ethically and effectively in VR and AR. Through research, classroom instruction and workshops, students experience the technology firsthand and explore society, culture, media and interpersonal relationships. 

“With our emphasis on ethical and engaged technological communication, we hope to enable the entire DePaul community through virtual and augmented reality,” says Professor Paul Booth, who leads the lab.

Booth recently worked with the Chicago Police Explorer program, leading a session on “Technology, Ethics, and Application” where marginalized youth got hands-on experience with the tools in VARC, including Meta Oculus Quest 2 headsets to learn empathy with others.

As part of another project at DePaul making connections with law enforcement, students and faculty in CDM’s interdisciplinary design PUSH Studio and advocacy-centered game lab Matters at Play​ designed A Just Reality, a VR experience to train law enforcement in trauma-informed and victim-centered interviewing techniques when investigating gender-based violence. The team tested their prototype with Buffalo Grove Police Department in October 2022. 

Animation Career Review considers academic reputation, tuition value, employment, and other data when ranking top AR/VR schools.

"I'm so thrilled with the rankings -- and to be in such esteemed company from across the country,” Booth says.