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New technology at MIAD prepares students for the workforce

Walking into the Maker Space at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) can be like fast-forwarding to the future.

MIAD is right on the cutting edge, acquiring new virtual reality (VR) technology in August 2016, just before the start of the fall semester.
The VR technology included an HTC Vive headset and controllers, Google Tilt Brush 3D painting and drawing software, Kodon 3D modeling software, and 3D printers.

When asked if it’s difficult to learn, Ben Dembroski, MIAD OpenLab manager, says yes and no. “It’s simple to use, but takes a long time to master.”

That’s why MIAD is getting students started right away.

“The creative industries at large are still figuring this stuff out,” Mr. Dembroski said. “By getting our students access to VR now, they’ll possess a familiarity with the tech before it becomes established. This will put them ahead of the curve when they enter the job market compared to students at universities who take more of a ‘wait and see’ approach.”

MIAD students can sketch out ideas and go from concept to finished model in a fraction of the time. “This speed enables them to identify potential problems in their work, and rapidly iterate solutions,” added Dembroski.

So far, MIAD students in an advanced figure drawing course have used the VR headset and Google Tilt Brush software to take their drawings from 2D to 3D. Others have used the 3D printers for everything from trophies to board game pieces to topographical maps.

“It’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon whenever a new technology is released, without really thinking about what its strengths and weaknesses are,” Mr. Dembroski said. “With this new technology at MIAD, students are gaining the kind of sophisticated intelligence regarding emerging technologies that’s becoming increasingly valuable to employers.”