Volume 93, Issue 16

Friday, September 24, 1999


Western to be no-show at rally

Western researchers going virtual

Stadium receives backing

Student federation's national campaign targets accessibility

Cannabis user to appear in court


Quirks and Smirks

Caught on campus

Buzz Mecca

Western researchers going virtual

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

The city of London as well as the Western community will be welcoming a new addition today – the Virtual Environment Technology Centre.

According to Gian Vascotto, director of the systems stimulation and control research at the National Research Council of Canada, the centre is opening at the Integrated Manufacturing Technology Institute at Western's research park.

One of the purposes of the centre is to integrate research and manufacturing technology, Vascotto said.

"We developed a centre designed to be a research facility, an applications centre, a showcase of technology and a learning centre," he said. "We have the largest, graphic super-computer ever to set foot in this country."

Vascotto added David Cook, director of the centre's program and a Western physical therapy professor, is the person who will bring the centre and the university together.

"We formed a program called Partners in Applied Virtual Environment," Cook said, adding the centre was going to open several opportunities for Western. "The face of the university is going to change in a fundamental way," he said.

Cook also explained one of the centre's features is a theatre which holds 50 people, displaying a 24-foot wide, three-dimensional screen with full stereo vision. "Think of the possibility of a teacher trying to teach about molecules, move through a DNA molecule and see how it works," he said.

Cook said the virtual technology will be available for Western students in the future as well as other research institutes. "To have this place suddenly appear 500 feet from the university gates – I think is a phenomenal thing and something I never expected to see in my lifetime," he said.

Cook added the virtual reality and high level of graphics of this centre has attracted a great deal of international interest in the private sector. "Very few people have had real experience with this kind of system and these kinds of developments," he said.

Bill Bridger, VP-research at Western, said the technology of the centre had enormous applications for students and faculty. "In medicine we use this technology on a small scale," he said.

For example, Bridger explained urban planners would also be able to plan and then view a virtual city before they begin to build.

Ellie Withers, co-ordinator of the centre said, overall, the sophisticated technology of the centre will create a more competitive Canadian industry. "There's not one place in the world [with] all of the capabilities we have."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999