WKU Art & Design student combines graphic design and virtual reality

Madison Whittle is a junior pursuing a BFA with a concentration in Graphic Design and a Certificate in User Experience. When a new Extended Reality (XR) lab opened on campus, WKU faculty encouraged Whittle to join.

“WKU’s Head of Art and Design, Kristina Arnold, approached me to ask if I would be interested in virtual reality (VR) research,” said Whittle. “I had no experience with extended reality, but I wanted to learn.”

In high school, Whittle learned valuable skills through coding and web design lessons, which spurred his interest in technology.

“Before I joined WKU, I was interested in website design as a potential career path. However, I wasn’t the best at writing code, so I decided to take care of myself. on the frontal or visual side of things. ”

It wasn’t until his first year of college that Whittle discovered the field of User Experience (UX) design. As defined by the Interaction Design Foundation, “User experience design is the process used by design teams to create products that deliver meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire product acquisition and integration process, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function. ”

Using his previous knowledge and acquiring new skills in the WKU XR research lab rekindled Whittle’s interest in technology, which had faded in favor of his journey in the visual arts.

“Being able to develop components that will be used in VR and apply my UX experience has been a truly amazing experience. I am passionate about graphic design and am happy to see how it can be merged with technology, especially in a medium that is still in development. “

This summer, Whittle contributed to the lab with design and user experience resources. “So far, I have created our logo, established a brand image and created 3D models for our programs.”

With a focus on interdisciplinary learning, the WKU XR Lab uses a combination of virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality tools to create immersive experiences. For example, one of the team’s current projects revolves around creating a more accessible approach to manufacturing engineering training.

“Since early May, our team has been developing a virtual reality program to teach Manufacturing Engineering Technology (MET) students how to use the university’s new FANUC robotic arm. Since this is a large, complex machine, any repairs it might need would be expensive and time consuming. Therefore, by having a virtual reality program to educate the students, these risks are mitigated. ”

Members of the research team also pursue other individual projects. Currently, Whittle is exploring ways to merge fine art with technology through augmented reality (AR).

“I worked in a program called Adobe Aero which allows users to upload 2D and 3D objects and view them in AR on their smartphone. I start by creating the illustrations on iPad. Then I upload the separate layers to Aero. , where I can animate and test them on my phone, I would be really interested to see how this software could be used in our graphics and fine art classes to create an augmented gallery experience.

Learn more about the WKU XR Research Lab at wku.edu/xr/. Find them on social media at the WKU XR Research Lab on Facebook or @wkuxr_research on Instagram.

Learn more about the WKU Art and Design Department at wku.edu/art/. Find them on social media at the WKU Department of Art & Design on Facebook or @wkuart on Instagram.

Clifton L. Boyd

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