Virtual World Developer
A professional who:
In the late 1980’s after completing my Master in Architecture I joined The Cavendish Partnership (TCP), an interdisciplinary design group base in Vermont. TCP’s innovative environment encouraged the utilization of 3D CAD technology to better understand and explain project concepts and outcomes to our clients, contractors, regulatory boards and the communities impacted by the projects. In many ways, we became the innovators of this process within the state of Vermont.
Moving to the University of Idaho in 1991, I introduced my experience from TCP to the students in the College of Art and Architecture. Building upon this foundation I continued to explore and incorporate emerging technologies enabling designers to better understand and communicate design concepts. Over the next few years my colleagues and I established the core philosophy of integrating the use of computer technology into the design process in lieu of using it as an end of project additive presentation tool.
Looking for new directions in my process, I explored avenues to experience design concepts interactively and in real‐time. In 1997 with the introduction of Virtual Reality Markup Language (VRML), I was able to investigate the fourth dimension and its effect on a design process. Clear outcomes led my colleagues and me to introduce these tools to our students, enabling them to enhance their design abilities and skill sets.
As our teams’ understanding and use of these emerging technologies matured, our visioning process identified an opportunity to create a new program which addressed emerging professions that necessitated a significant blending of design and digital technologies. Capitalizing on this vision, we created the Virtual Technology and Design (VTD) program at the University of Idaho, which is conceptually founded on the principles of conjoining the virtual realm with emerging computer technologies and a sound design process.
While VTD grew out of the world of architecture and related disciplines, it quickly expanded the creative problem solving and critical thinking techniques to address any discipline. With a VTD education our graduates have applied their talents to such professions as, environmental visualization/communication, edutainment, computer games, movie based computer graphics, web content development and the maturing fields of serious gaming and simulations.
A hallmark of the VTD program is the innovative nature of its faculty. As a team, and individually, we continue to introduce this innovation into the curriculum and research agendas. My evolution centers in the area of creating believable immersive multi‐user virtual worlds that enable the users to engage, share and collaborate with others. I continue to use the same design principles for creating spaces for humans as I do in the tactile world. However, with the improved real‐time technologies, I am able to especiate the process to enable the outcomes digitally. A key outcome of this process is the expanding scope of disciplines that take advantage of the digital potential.
Over the past six years my work with a diverse group of colleagues articulates this point. Beyond the worlds of architecture and related disciplines, I work with professionals from law enforcement, risk management, accounting, fashion and apparel design, dietetics, physical therapists, early childhood development specialists, construction and industrial hygienists, history and hard scientist’s. I lead interdisciplinary teams in: designing and implementing virtual worlds exploring industrial training, ethnography, physical therapists training, history education through role playing activities; providing simulated training environments for first responders and university housing personnel, providing interactive experiences for junior and high school students exploring healthy nutritional lifestyles and personal finance; digitally connecting diabetics to interactive learning environments, support groups and healthcare providers; educating home owners on recognizing potential fire hazards when their property abuts a forest.
The future holds great promise for the evolution of my design and technical processes. While the excitement is out in front of me, the strength of my process is firmly rooted in the best of what I have experienced through the first steps of my journey.
Courses Developed and Taught
Advanced Lighting and Materials (300 Level)
Interactive Technologies (200 Level)
Advanced Interactive Technologies (300 Level)
Design Studio (100, 200 and 300 Level)
Capstone Design (400 Level) Graduate Student Mentor
In 1991 I joined the University of Idaho as the College of Art and Architecture’s Computer Studio Director. In this position I engaged the College’s academic programs in visioning and setting directions for the integration of computer based technologies into their curriculums. To inform this process I brought forward my design/technology experiences from my previous position. Through this process I established and implemented the support provided by the Computer Studio for the programs and their students. Additionally, at the University level, I worked with peers across campus to discern and identify goals enabling a robust technological environment for our students, staff and faculty.
Concurrent with my role as Computer Studio Director, I contributed to the Department of Architecture as an adjunct faculty member where I engaged and inspired students in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Interior Design to embed computer based technologies into their design process. The technologies we employed included Geographical Information Systems, 3D modeling, advanced rendering techniques and walk-through animations. As my exploration of incorporating the use of virtual environments into my design process matured I introduced these concepts to the students enabling them to explore and share their work as real-time interactive worlds.
In 2002 two colleagues and I developed a vision and business plan for a new academic program – Virtual Technology and Design (VTD). The idea for the program stemmed from our vision setting and ideation discussions that were responding to significant changes in the entertainment, design and visualization communities. A core principle of VTD is to explore and discover how the virtual realm, emerging technologies and a sound design process can be blended to solve “wicked” and everyday problems. We evolved and enhanced our existing curricula to prepare the VTD graduates to move seamlessly amongst disciplines including computer gaming, simulations, entertainment, non-entertainment and visualization, as well as, emerging fields as they develop. The program received university and state approval and began engaging students in the fall of 2003.
As VTD matures I am actively involved in setting program directions and outcomes, engaging students in technology classes and design studios and participating with colleagues from across the campus in research. My research agenda includes the design and use of multi-user inhabitable virtual environments for users to engage, share and collaborate with others. Working in interdisciplinary teams my colleagues and I have received over a million dollars in funding over 5 key grants:
Additionally my Senior Design Capstone studios are exploring concepts including:
As Chair of the VTD program I worked with the VTD faculty to mentor and support their teaching and research agendas as well as supporting the program through administrative activities including budgeting, vision setting and marketing.
As a faculty member I interact, assist and encourage our students at all levels in the program and I represent the program across the university and with non-academic constituents.
During my tenure at The Cavendish Partnership (TCP) I took on two prime roles. The first role was as an associate in the Architecture group were I was engaged across all aspects of the architectural design and build process. This included conceptual design, design development, budgeting, construction document preparation, specification development, and site observation. TCP was a highly collaborative environment where we frequently worked with internal teams including architecture, landscape architecture/planning and marketing.
My second role at TCP was as the Director of Computer Resources. Working with the firms principles we discerned and establish goals to integrate emerging CADD technologies into the firm’s two main disciplines: Landscape Architecture/Planning and Architecture. As the 3-dimensional technologies emerged we assessed its value and moved to incorporate it into our design and project pipelines. Our visioning proved to be successful especially within the area of large scale project permitting.
Through the process of professional virtual world development and architectural visualization in Unity 3D and Second Live I have employed various tools to successfully create still and motion graphics, virtual environments, characters, graphical user interfaces (GUI), database connections and web environments.
These tools include but are not limited to: Unity3D (world development and scripting), Autodesk 3D Studio Max, Autodesk Motionbuilder, Autodesk Revit/AutoCadd, Adobe CC Suite (including Mixamo tools), MakeHuman, HTML, Photon (multi-user plugin for Unity 3D), ReactionGrid (MMO), Second Life (world development and scripting), SQL, VRay, VRML 97