New Campus Virtual Reality Systems Combine Learning and Entertainment


posted February 10, 2017

Pitt-Johnstown's Tom Plutt, a senior majoring in information systems, demonstrates VR equipment. Photo by John Rucosky, The Tribune-Democrat

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown introduced Virtual Reality equipment that is as much about 21st-century learning as it is gaming.

The VR systems were introduced in an event in The Zone, the campus arcade located on the upper floor of the Student Union building, February 9, 2017.

“I think it’s a very creative approach to enhancing the learning experience as well as providing opportunity for some gaming and some entertainment,” said Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar

The systems are housed in The Zone, but may be used for educational purposes as needed, such as providing students a way to virtually explore the world using Google Maps, or learn about medicine, or see the International Space Station.


Student Erik Walters: "we built these things to last for a long time.”

“We’re going to be able to take the virtual reality road show out into the academic buildings, as well as to the lobbies of our residence halls to turn more and more people on to it,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Shawn Brooks.

The systems were built by students Erik Walters and Tom Plutt.

Walters, a computer science major, said the systems will be able to serve students for many years because “we built these things to last for a long time.”

“I do feel like we can further push education goals through virtual reality.

“It’s going to create environments that can actually be safer,” said Plutt, a senior majoring in information systems.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is marking its 90th anniversary well as the 50th year of the campus in its Richland Township location. Pitt-Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.