A technological innovation is poised to enter Davenport and the Quad-Cities through a new partnership between the Eastern Iowa Community Colleges and a California firm, EON Reality. The partnership means cutting-edge virtual and augmented reality programs for savvy students as well as new job opportunities in the high-tech sector. The market for knowledge transfers in this field is growing rapidly on a global scale, expected to reach $150 billion by 2020 and disrupt the mobile phone and personal computer markets.

A $2 million local investment allows the college district to buy new software and equipment, hire teachers and and bring in experts. Students will learn in the next several months to build a specific skill set for the EON company’s software and applications.

EON is a 17-year-old virtual reality firm, founded by petroleum engineers who figured out a way to safely train workers on oil rigs in the middle of the ocean.

The company has grown to be global in reach, and the new educational training center in Davenport will be one of only four in the United States.

The new venture will be called the EON Innovation Academy. Students will sign up this month for the 11-month program, said Ellen Kabat Lensch, the college’s vice chancellor for workforce and economic development.

Lensch helped to start the new partnership and program aided by Jim Noord, the district’s information technology coordinator.

Noord was employed by EON nearly two decades ago, and he is a proponent of the virtual reality and augmented reality technology.

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