January 22, 2021

The Blended Reality project has been running at Yale since the fall of 2016, enabling students and faculty to explore applications of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) technologies within their disciplines.  Over those 4 years students have graduated and continue to incorporate the lessons they learned while working in the project into their professional lives. 

Recently we reached out to some of them for reflections on the experience of working on Blended Reality projects and advice for current students.  The quotes below are a compilation of longer, individual conversations conducted by research assistant Christina Strohmann.

What stands out from your participation in the Blended Reality project?

Will: (The Blended Reality community is) a laid back but open-minded group of people who all had different technical skills… where we could pass ideas around the diversity of our expertise…lessons that I carry with me today.

Monique: A big part of the experience is talking to or networking with fellow creators… having all these different talks and classes that the Blended Reality (project hosted) really prepared me…

Isaac: The brainstorming sessions (were) the spark that lit the fire under our ideas… you get so much creative feedback and so many great ideas…

Valentina: That (community) was really important because we were all feeding off of each other’s energy and everyone had something different to bring to the table and ideas and things that they had found throughout the week…

Lance: That sort of constant creative spirit is a great thing about the Blended Reality community.

What is your advice for students in the program now?

W: Blended Reality is more like an outlook or a perspective than it is a technical expertise
…think about it as broadly as you can, and you’ll see that you do have skills that intersect with Blended Reality because Blended Reality is our reality

M: VR is so new right now that everybody is kind of at the precipice of creating the next big thing…even if you don’t necessarily feel like you’re super prepared to just dive into a project… you’re only going to learn by doing…

I: Having fun with it is the most important thing. Try to keep perspective and not focus too much on the negative or stressful aspects of having to succeed

V: Just going in and having fun and playing and then figuring out what you want to do.

L: Start reaching out, see what people are doing, and don’t be afraid to describe what you’re interested in doing. Really embrace those crazy ideas. (XR) needs people from all different backgrounds to start engaging with it.

Many thanks to our alums for sharing their thoughts and advice.

  • (I)  Isaac Shelanski (YC 2020)
  • (L) Lance Chantiles-Wertz (YC 2019)
  • (M) Monique Baltzer (YC 2020)
  • (V) Valentina Zamfirescu (MFA 2018)
  • (W) Will Wheeler (MFA 2017)