OSU Institute of Technology has been awarded a $150,000 MegaGrant from Epic Games to create courses in Unreal Virtual Set Design Training.
The renewable grant will allow OSUIT to offer online training courses in Unreal Engine, a software and game engine owned by Epic Games, which is the most used tool to create virtual reality and extended reality environments. The course will cover the creation of XR and VR assets and the building of VR environments from start to advanced level to produce highly skilled XR creation specialists.
"The project intends to produce students knowledgeable in Unreal and VR creation," said Christian Bradley, dean of the School of Creative & Information Technologies.
Bradley said that these courses would be non-credit, and the plan is to be available for anyone, anywhere in the world to take once developed. This will not be a degree-granting program, but a targeted, professional training program.
"The courses will target professionals in the game and entertainment industries, along with professionals in IT and other technology jobs or studying in technology-related programs," said Bradley.
Unreal is a tool set that is universally used to create cutting-edge, graphically-intense environments used in television, virtual reality and film. The software is free to download and use, but complex to learn.
"Professionals using Unreal and other related software can expect high salaries, and the skill sets learned in these courses are in high demand by employers in these industries," said Bradley. "In addition to our students, I would think some of our graduates and industry partners will be very interested in this course and program."
It's possible that most, if not all, degree programs on the OSUIT campus can benefit in one way or another from this grant.
"The VR possibilities with this grant are endless," said Bradley. "Nearly every program we have here on campus has a foot in the virtual reality industry. Virtual reality can be used and is currently being used to train professionals in everything from truck repair to complex networking systems."
Unreal is not new to one degree at OSUIT-- 3D Modeling & Animation. This program already trains students on how to use Unreal at a beginning or intermediate level.
"I think this will be exciting and prove OSUIT is right on the cutting edge of technology," said Bradley. "OSUIT will be one of only a few universities in the Midwest and the southern United States to offer specialized training in the VR/XR space and the only university to offer this kind of training nationally."
Bradley said he is thankful for the OSUIT Workforce & Economic Development division's help for applying and securing this grant.
"Our WFED division was very helpful in securing this grant,” he said. “We met with numerous grant writers, researched a lot of material and eventually settled on the grant proposal that we submitted.”
Bradley said they hope to have the courses up and running within the next six months, but a start date is still to be determined.