Baylor students launch virtual reality club

Vice President Jake Rutkowski (right) and President James Cotter (second from the right) started Baylor's first virtual reality club last month. Photo Courtesy of Jake Rutkowski

By Micaela Freeman | Staff Writer

A real life experience projected by a screen and a headset can change the entire room for someone who is experiencing virtual reality for the first time.

Baylor students Austin sophomore James Cotter and Plano sophomore Jake Rutkowski have launched Baylor University’s very first Virtual Reality Club. The club was chartered on Jan. 25 and had its first interest meeting Monday night in the Moody basement as a chartered club.

The club allows students to experience virtual reality firsthand. The club will also allow students to learn what the immersive experience can do for their academic careers as well as learn how to have fun with the technologically advanced gaming system.

“I want a career that is related to virtual reality, so I am really excited about this,” Cotter said.

The club’s goals are to allow students to experience Virtual Reality, learn about the science behind it and will be offered academic opportunities such as internships and valuable lessons. The immersive learning experience will also allow advances in research for faculty and students in science and art.

Baylor has donated a virtual reality gaming system to the Baylor V. R. club and students of the club bring their own gaming systems as well.

In September, Baylor’s Learning Spaces and Media Services launched an initial pilot program that invited faculty to experience Virtual Reality.

Visual resource curator Lisa Fehsenfeld told Baylor Libraries the benefits and the excitement virtual reality brings to Baylor and its research and arts.

“For the visual arts, virtual reality provides an amazing new canvas to create,” Fehsenfeld said.

Cotter and Rutkowski are thrilled to be extending the experience to students.

“We were very eager to start the club and share our vision which is let everybody experience virtual reality,” Cotter said. “We are really excited to be working with our developer team and move forward this semester.”

The newfound club was quick to find its footing once it was chartered and began advertising and reaching out to students immediately. Both Cotter and Rutkowski have made plans for this semester including socials, meetings and creating a competition season with other Texas universities.

Cotter and Rutkowski made the decision to launch a V.R. club at Baylor their freshman year and have created relationships with professors and other University sanctioned V.R. clubs.

“My relationship with the President [Cotter] is really great. We both have differing leadership roles and I think we work really well together,” Rutkowski said.

The process of creating a V.R. club has been a lengthy one for Cotter and Rutkowski. The two leaders of the club have been working with Baylor and the creating of the club since April 2017.

“I’ve had the inception of the idea for a while,” Cotter said. “We’ve [Cotter and Rutkowsi] have worked through everything together.”

The efforts poured out by Cotter and Rutkowski were rewarded on Jan. 25 when Cotter got the notification from Baylor that his club was officially chartered.

“It meant a lot, and by then, we were ready to have meetings and begin this next chapter for the both of us,” Rutkowski said.

Meetings for members will be at 7:30 p.m. every other Monday night in the Garden level of Moody Library.