Arie Kaufman describes the Reality Deck located in the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technologies (CEWIT) to Stony Brook as a dream he carried for a decade before finally securing the funding to build it. Ten years after its completion in 2012, the immersive display, the largest of its kind in the world, serves as a valuable virtual reality training ground for high school students and a powerhouse for the undergraduate computer science curriculum at Stony Brook.
CEWIT’s Reality Deck is a 30-by-40-foot room covered in 416 27-inch screens, each with 4 million pixels, that immerses scientists, researchers and students in a high-definition world of 1.6 billion pixels. pixels.
“The vision has been to give everyone ages 5 to 105 on Long Island the opportunity to learn computer programming,” said Kaufman, CEWIT chief scientist and distinguished professor at Stony Brook University. Computer Science department at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Kaufman and the computer science department collaborated with kidOYO®, an education-focused nonprofit that creates mentor-led communities, prioritizing computer literacy for production-level learning standards. The organization supports K-12 students, connecting them to computer science opportunities and helping them develop their imaginations and entrepreneurial skills while university students serve as mentors.
Kaufman was particularly interested in working with kidOYO because the organization has a close to 50-50 gender ratio.
“We need to make our program more appealing to female students,” Kaufman said. “It’s about building a critical mass; we don’t want a single student sitting at the back of the class. It was an opportunity to build a relationship for gender equality and to have our own students serving as mentors.
Earlier this year, kidOYO joined as an industry member of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry University Cooperative Research Center in the Center for Visual and Decision Informatics (CVDI), led by Kaufman. This new collaboration allows local high school students interested in coding and research to take advantage of Stony Brook’s facilities, while Kaufman’s PhD students serve as their mentors.
Through annual summer internships, Kaufman and kidOYO hope to spread the virtues of computer coding and programming as well as computer science research to high school students on Long Island.
“We want to put our program in front of more high school students who are well trained in coding,” Kaufman said. “What they learned here was how to conduct computer science research. We want them to come back as ambassadors to their peers and tell them about their Stony Brook experience.
This summer, Kaufman and his doctoral students welcomed two high school students interested in immersive virtual reality and augmented reality. Three doctoral mentors worked closely with them.
“When they saw the Reality Deck, they said, ‘we’re not going anywhere, we’re staying here,'” Kaufman said. “The time we spent with them was great fun. The complexity of what they have done is exceptional.
“Working with these students was impressive,” said Saeed Boor Boor, a PhD student in computer science. “The creativity, spectacular problem-solving abilities and dogged determination of these two students, who are the protagonists of our global future, were nothing short of phenomenal. It was a pleasure to work and learn alongside them.
The students created an interactive paint program and collaboration interface based on augmented reality which they demonstrated at the Reality Deck on August 24.
“Visual computing is appealing to high school kids because the visual feedback they see is like the games they played growing up,” he said. “We don’t specifically teach games, but the future of all of this will be augmented or virtual reality, and you can play games in those settings.”
A student who participated in the program gets a pilot’s license, and Kaufman asked him why. “He said he’d played so many video games about virtual airplane navigation that he knew how to tackle it before he even went to class.”
The next phase of Kaufman’s research using the Reality Deck will focus not only on visual computing and big data, but also on visual analytics and machine learning – using visual images and graphs to make decisions. as well as using graphics from the Reality Deck. processing units (GPUs) as accelerators for machine learning. Kaufman and his team will collaborate with kidOYO to develop high school curricula in visual computing and machine learning.
“How do you use charts to show you what’s an outlier and what should be trending?” said Kaufman. “We do a lot of extrapolation. There are many things that charts like these can help with. The visual channel is the widest. Why not exploit it?
Kaufman said he expects interest in the summer internship to increase and hopes to welcome twice as many students next year.
“If we double it, I will be very happy,” he said. “We are also planning an open house for this year’s students to present their project to school administrators, teachers and other students. People will see the installation and the demonstration and we hope it will generate a lot of interest. It has been a long awaited dream for me. Having students of this caliber at this institution is very gratifying.
– Robert Emproto