Students place in the top 5 at MIT Reality Hack

Virtual reality competition addresses real-world issues


Ian Ralston and Elly Cross at the MIT competition where they each placed in the top 5. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Platt.)

By Cliff Peale, university communications and marketing

Two Miami University students joined some of the world’s leading high-tech developers and designers at an elite virtual reality competition in January and placed in the top five in their respective categories.

Called “Reality Hack,” the event held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in mid-January was a thrill for Elly Cross and Ian Ralston, who are majoring in emerging technology in business + design (formerly interactive media studies).

Cross’ team designed a mass casualty emergency triage system with training simulation capabilities and placed in the top five in the augmented reality segment. Ralston’s team created a virtual space where participants from around the world would be able to come together to create ideas and start working on them, placing in the top five in virtual reality.

“I just really enjoyed being able to create experiences and share them with others,” said Cross, a senior from Dayton minoring in management and leadership. “I wanted to go outside of my comfort zone. We were able to learn and test new equipment that isn’t even on the market yet.”

Ralston, a senior from Mason minoring in digital innovation, said the experience was valuable not just for classes but for his future career. His group included students from the University of Michigan and the University of California at Berkeley.

“I would say that this was a fantastic experience for me personally and professionally, meeting all of the people and professionals I did, making some really awesome stuff that worked how we wanted it to,” Ralston said.

The emerging technology in business + design program continues to grow, with about 1,000 students currently and the addition of a games + simulation major.