Thomas ''Fly Guy'' Likens Virtual Reality Lab is Open

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Ribbon Cutting Unveils Thomas ''Fly Guy'' Likens Virtual Reality Lab at Lewis University

Published: September 13, 2021.

Lewis University students now have a new way of learning with the recently opened Thomas "Fly Guy" Likens Virtual Reality Lab on its Romeoville campus. Lewis University held a ribbon cutting and open house for the Thomas "Fly Guy" Likens Virtual Reality Lab September 9.

“Let's take learning to the next level. This lab is about supporting Lewis students to do something brilliant,” said Scott Likens ’96, Lewis University Computer Science alumnus and Emerging Technology Leader at PwC. He continued, “Students (and teachers) need to learn differently, and a virtual reality lab is how we can prepare Lewis students for how the world is changing.”

The “Fly Guy” Virtual Reality Lab is intended to be interdisciplinary, according to Dr. Ray Klump, associate dean and professor in the College of Aviation, Science and Technology. “Computer Science students will learn how to make VR games and simulations, but many of these will be driven by what other departments’ researchers and teachers need to enhance their craft. I think it will become a major hub of scholarship, as so much scholarly work today either starts from or in some way incorporates computer modeling.”

Dr. David Livingston, president of Lewis University, commented, “Every discipline will be impacted by this kind of a lab in the future because every student coming in will just see virtual reality as a part of the way they learn.”

Just a few examples of how the lab will be utilized around campus, include:

  • Athletics - Fine-tune a tennis, baseball, or golf swing.
  • Aviation – Simulate flight training.
  • Human Resources - Team-building exercises in which a group divides up interdependent tasks and coaches each other through a process.
  • Material Science - 3D walkthroughs help nanoscientists see chemical bonds.
  • Music - Compose music as if one was in a studio or even conducting an orchestra.

The virtual reality lab allows students to explore and gain hands-on experience, continued Likens. “As an emerging technologist, I know that it is key to have the right tools, curiosity and support to be successful.”

Business Analytics graduate student Juan Ramirez shared his gratitude during the ceremony. The Computer Science alumnus said, “I have seen how influential this virtual reality experience can be for the business world. We are so excited that the VR lab space can give students and professors an opportunity to gather more data about their subject process.”

The “Thomas “Fly Guy” Likens Virtual Reality Lab” is in memory of Scott Likens’ father, Thomas Likens, who passed away in October of 2018. “My father is one of the biggest reasons that I am where I am today. When I was young, he bought a computer to play video games with the neighbor.”

Thomas loved to fly, and he loved computers. Scott Likens previously funded a large portion of Lewis’s first high-performance compute node, also in honor of his father.

Lewis University is an innovative and forward-thinking Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,200 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected and socially responsible graduates. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.



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