National Science Foundation director tours Brown University’s virtual reality program

In 2010, NSF granted $15.5 million to the institute which enabled its foundation. | File photo

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Cordova and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) recently toured Brown University to learn more about its research into virtual reality.

The NSF and the university have supported faculty and student research into virtual reality. On April 8, Cordova and Reed saw a bit of the research first-hand.

The visit began with a tour covering the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM), a mathematics center on South Main Street that receives NSF funds.

The visitors then went to College Hill to tour the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. They also saw the School of Engineering and the YURT – the University’s immersive virtual reality theater.

“It’s a wonderful tool for training, especially in environments… that are very difficult and expensive to get to,” Córdova said. “Virtual reality brings those environments in where you can explore them.”

At a reception, Cordova spoke with 100 scholars and researchers. He emphasized that ICERM has received new NSF funds, amounting to $17.5 million in grants, to continue to finance the research.

“This has been… a terrific visit,” Cordova said. “[We] got to see a lot of different kinds of science and engineering that’s going on [and] meet a lot of students and some of the award-winning faculty. Brown is just such a highly distinguished university doing quality research, so NSF is proud to support it.”

In 2010, NSF granted $15.5 million to the institute which enabled its foundation. The ongoing funding shows that the research has been making progress.

“It’s one thing to get something off the ground,” Córdova said. “But it’s quite another thing to show that you have impact… and that’s what ICERM has done.”

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