Eastern Iowa Community College is set to host a grand opening celebration for their new EON Reality Interactive Digital Center (IDC). At the event the Community College, along with their partner, EON Reality, is hoping to show regional employers that virtual reality can provide more than just entertainment.

EICC started training students in virtual and augmented reality back in January. This is all apart of their eleven-month program known as the Virtual Reality Academy (VRA).

“Right now what they are doing at this point in time is learning how to create the content,” said VR Training Initiative Project Manager, Joshua Drake. “That content can be anything from a game to a training simulation.”

After spending four months in the learning phase, students will then spend seven months working on specific projects for companies, such as Boeing.

There are a few new additions, in terms of equipment, to the new center. But the real goal of the Grand Opening is to show regional employers how virtual reality can be used in training situations.

“The sectors we are focusing on are manufacturing, health care and education,” said Drake.

The Project Manager compared the VR applications to the former “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series. The VR simulations allow trainees to make choices and mistakes without the real-life risk.

“Why not use something in the virtual space,” asked Drake. “So all of those parts, all of those pieces can be put into that virtual environment. Those individuals that need to be trained on how to use that will learn how those pieces go together without having to make those mistakes.”

The Grand Opening has two scheduled portions focusing on healthcare and advanced manufacturing/business. The healthcare portion will begin at 1 p.m. while the second portion will start at 3:30 p.m.

Over 100 people have RSVP’d to the event. Due to the large amount of attendees expected, the Grand Opening will begin at the Figge Art Museum (225 W. Second Street) and then move to the virtual reality lab located at EICC’s Advanced Technology Environmental Energy Center (ATEEC), directly across the street.

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