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EWC receives NASA grant

June 24, 2019

Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington has been notified by the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium that they have received a 2019 Faculty Education Enhancement Grant for the proposal Enhanced, Engaging and Immersive Student Learning Experience using Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. The proposal was written and submitted by Dr. Dinesh Kasti (Mathematics) and Dr. Sridhar Budhi (Chemistry). The grant award is $10,000.

The proposal involves utilizing Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) or Mixed Reality (MR) as an integral part of the Science and Arts curriculum. Research conducted by Kasti and Budhi show that VR and AR provide highly engaging, completely immersive and cost-efficient ways of learning highly complicated science concepts in the quickest possible way, allowing direct interaction with the virtual simulated world.

“Students are excited and engaged to do activities that involve some sort of technology and they have little to no hesitance in trying them. Also, it is important now to train students who are not very inclined towards technology to prepare them for a technological future,” shared Dr. Budhi.

“The majority of students at Eastern Wyoming College transfer to the University of Wyoming to complete their degree programs. UW is embracing state-of-the-art technology to deliver education to their students. In line with the efforts of UW, especially through its Science Initiative – Learning Actively Mentoring Program (LAMP), it is equally important for us to adopt the active learning strategies and directions embraced by UW apart from using the traditional way of delivery of subject material at our college,” continued Dr. Budhi.

This project helps an instructor of any subject at EWC, even though it is designed mainly for instructors of various science and technology fields. Once the funding becomes available, the devices will be purchased and installed with the necessary applications during summer 2019 so that they will be ready to be employed in fall 2019. Initially it will be implemented in at least three of the science classes. With feedback and insights gained through the implementation, it will be fully adopted in other science classes, nursing, veterinary technology, agricultural technology, and welding classes that EWC offers, as early as fall 2020.

“We are very excited for Dr. Budhi and Dr. Kasti and the opportunities for students that they bring to EWC,” said Dr. Heidi Edmunds, Vice President for Academic Services. “Their work on this project is appreciated and will benefit programs across the college.”

This is the second grant that EWC has received from the NASA Space Grant Consortium. The previous grant was in 2017 and brought in $20,000 to enhance the instructional technology to offer exclusive learning experiences to students to increase the retention and graduation rates in science classes.

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