U.S. Air Force interested in partnership with Bradley University to create augmented reality software

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The United States Department of Defense is tapping a local college to help them move into the future.

Whether it’s animation, game design, or programming, leaders at Bradley University’s Department of Interactive media said students are exposed to a world of possibilities.

“The animation students their dream is to go on to Disney or Pixar and our gaming students want to go to game studios and they all do that, but they do other things as well. OSF Healthcare does a lot with virtual reality,” said Ethan Ham, chairperson of Bradley University Department of Interactive Media.

Tuesday, 17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) got a first-hand look at the department and its technology during a tour.

“This is a wow moment to be able to go through this entire department and see what students both at the undergraduate level and graduate level are accomplishing right here in Peoria Illinois,” Bustos said.

Those accomplishments aren’t going unnoticed. Bustos said the U.S. Air Force is hoping to team with Bradley and the University of Dayton to create software to help train plane mechanics.

“The Department of Defense wants to figure out how do you use something like virtual reality, augmented reality, in a practical sense,” Bustos said.

To make the partnership a reality, Bustos explained a Department of Defense subcommittee, on which she serves, is working to secure $8 million dollars in grant funding.

“There is no pushback on this whatsoever out in Washington, D.C. because they see the potential of the program right here at Bradley,” Bustos said.

Ham said possible partnerships like the one with the Air Force show the need for students in these programs.

“The game industry is now bigger than the movie industry, and so where there’s that demand for talent, our students are now filling it,” Ham said.

Princeton Review recently ranked Bradley’s undergraduate game design program as ninth in the world.

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