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UNK CSIT 2017 Newsletter

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CSIT Students Innovate in the Virtual Reality World

UNK CSIT VR Student Projects UNK CSIT VR Student Projects
UNK CSIT VR Student Projects UNK CSIT VR Student Projects

UNK CSIT students are trendsetters in the virtual reality (VR) world as they break new ground using the UNK CSIT VR lab. Each new version of VR hardware and software, and each new semester, brings about opportunities for CSIT students to innovate and express their creativity.

The first CSIT VR project was a snowboarding simulation completed in the spring of 2014 by Daniel Russel as his Software Engineering project. It used the first generation Oculus Rift VR display for head tracking and display along with the Wii Balance Board, to control the in-game snowboard. It was developed with the Unity Engine, and used Blender for 3D modeling. Daniel, a May 2015 Computer Science Comprehensive graduate, demonstrated his snowboarding simulator to middle and high school students at the 2014 Nebraska Broadband Conference and at the 2015 First Lego League Robotics Competition in Kearney. (Images below.)

In the spring of 2015, two VR projects were created as projects in the Artificial Intelligence course, using the Oculus Rift Development Kit (DK) 2.

Ian Lim, an Applied Computer Science junior from Grand Island, created a “robots versus humans” VR first person shooter game, for the Oculus Rift KD2. Sam Middleton, an Applied CS junior from Kearney, created a VR motorcycle racing game,, which won the 5th annual Central Nebraska business idea contest in October 2015.  The game involves a player surviving on a motorcycle while avoiding walls and an artificial intelligent agent. Players use the Oculus Rift DK2 to look and feel like they are actually riding the bike.  

“With the rising market in virtual reality gaming, such a business would thrive in the coming years. And unlike the physical products of most businesses, games could be mass-produced cheaply through digital online marketplaces,” said Middleton.

“As these virtual reality devices are created by Microsoft, Sony, Samsung and Google, there will be a high demand for software compatible with these devices.”

The fall 2015 semester brought about more CSIT student VR projects. Sam set out to improve his motorcycle racing game in the CSIT 422 Computer Graphics course.  Unfortunately, innovating in the VR world has its challenges. As he went to implement the game into the new Unity 5 engine, his motorcycle which worked perfectly in the previous version of Unity, now moved straight up instead of straight forward. Back to the drawing board! He was able to solve this problem and also added the ability for the human player to jump over walls.  Ian also continued his VR work, and created a 3D explorable world, where the user enters an elevator, and each floor contains a new world to explore.

Matt Lueck and Ben Bomberger, CS Comprehensive seniors from Kearney, tried their hand at creating a VR project in their Senior Capstone course, as they developed a VR 3D boxing game for the Oculus Rift. It was built using Unity with Leap Motion, using Blender for the 3D modeling.  The Leap Motion allows the VR system to “see” the player’s hands. Unfortunately for Matt and Ben, it only recognizes a hand when all five fingers were visible. So much for using a seeing your fist for boxing.  It turned into more of a “slapping” game.

Ben Wagner, CSIT student, is shown using one of the CSIT Oculus Rift VR headsets with the Leap Motion. If you look on the computer screen, you will see images of hands. In the headset, you “see” your hands, grab items, throw things, etc.

January 2016 brought about the first commercial release of the Oculus Rift. Fortunately for developers, it now comes with the Oculus Touch, which is a handheld tracked controller that brings your hands into VR. 

Fall 2016 brought about the HTC Vive. Forrest King and Matt Brunkhorst (top left) created a VR game for it in spring 2017.

Otto Olsen replacement forward

It’s official: the legislation to fund University of Nebraska renovation projects has passed and been signed by Gov. Pete Ricketts. What that means for UNK: A new Otto Olsen building.

What it means for CSIT: new lab space for students to work on projects in computer security, system administration, robotics, virtual reality, mobile app development, and more!  Stay tuned as the process moves forward. The current estimation is to have a new home for CSIT in 2019.

See the UNK News Article.

Inventing the Future with UNK CSIT

What does a 2015 computer science graduate and a professor of computer science, Emeritus at Princeton University have in common? When asked, Sherri Harms, computer science information technology (CSIT) department chair will tell you, "Larry Peterson '79, Ph.D., helped engineer cloud computing; while Neil Emeigh '15 makes a living off of it They are some of the many technology stars who have graduated from the CSIT department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK)."

Recent CSIT student projects

Student-led projects are used in multiple courses in the CSIT program. Student projects are tailored to their own interests. Students learn all of the necessary skills for software development (software analysis & design, project management, algorithmic design, database design, graphics programming, team work, computer security, quality assurance) in a fun and exciting way! Sample projects include virtual reality, mobile apps and gaming.

Check out the CSIT student projects

UNK 2017 Robotics Mini-Golf Competition

UNK CSIT held its annual robotics competition on March 31st. This year, the robot were required to play mini golf on a 3-hole miniature golf course. The robot had to avoid obstacles along the way. The holes were randomly set up, which made navigation difficult. Five teams competed. Three teams competed in the regional MICS competition. Two teams of students also completed in the programming competition, and one student presented research at MICS.

CSIT AI Students CSIT AI Students CSIT

CSIT Student Wins 5th Annual Central Nebraska Business Idea Contest with VR game

Samuel Middleton of Kearney won the $1,000 first prize for his Oculus Rift video game, which is a virtual reality headset gaming device. The game involves a player surviving on a motorcycle while avoiding walls and artificial intelligence. Players use the Oculus Rift to look and feel like they are actually riding the bike. View Sam's video

VR Motorcycle Game
Sam Middleton Playing VR Motorcycle Game

Deividy Negri's Sports Event App was also in the top 10 ideas. View Deividy's pitch.

UNK helps rural teachers implement computer science, IT classes

The University of Nebraska at Kearney Computer Science Department will help rural teachers integrate computer science and information technology lessons into the classroom.

The program, Computer Science Principles on the Prairie, aims to prepare young people in rural Nebraska for information technology careers.

See the UNK News Article.

CSIT Sponsors CoderDojos for K-12 students

UNK Coder Dojos

Monthly, 3rd Monday 6-8 PM, Sept-Nov, Feb-Apri. Register here
UNK Hour of Code UNK Hour of Code - Complete!

Old CSIT Annual Newsletters

2016 CSIT Newsletter

2015 CSIT Newsletter

2014 CSIT Newsletter

2013 CSIT Newsletter

2012 CSIT Newsletter

2011 CSIT Newsletter