Northern Kentucky Univ. Gets a $6 Million Virtual Worlds Mecca


Northern Kentucky University is joining South Dakota State University and St. Paul College in Minnesota as a pioneer in the virtual world revolution.

According to an article in Scientific Computing, Northern Kentucky University just received a $6 million grant to construct a virtual world informatics center complete with the academic-sounding CAVE: computer assisted virtual environment.

Read on to find out how NKU is poised to change the model of how virtual worlds research is conducted, and why the Midwest will soon be in the driver's seat of academic research into virtual worlds.

According to Scientific Computing, NKU's new informatics center will set the standard for interdisciplinary research and development:

The facility will feature a computer assisted virtual environment
(CAVE) that will be available for businesses to use for product

While several large corporations boast their own CAVEs for
research and development, the CAVE located at Griffin Hall will be one
of the only CAVEs available for public use.

It also will boast a
Digitorum that will be capable of running complex simulations in
homeland security, computer and financial security, and other
industries. The Digitorium can double as a network operations center
(NOC) that will allow broad use by a variety of private and government

Talk about a versatile investment – not only does the new CAVE system put Northern Kentucky University in a class all its own, it also enables the university to open up revenue streams by providing its technology to a wide range of public and private operators. The same system that can rapid-prototype a new car engine can also run counter-terrorism simulators.

Students who gain expertise in developing programs and content in the CAVE will gain a unique set of skills even the Ivy League has trouble matching. We predicted earlier this week that the students who enroll in university virtual worlds programs would have a competitive advantage in the tech-heavy job market. NKU's biggest tech philanthropist agrees:

NKU informatics graduates will be well
positioned to take local companies to new heights in terms of
technology and expertise. "The company and the region are going to get
the benefit out of this too. That's exciting," [Robert Griffin, CEO of Griffin Industries] said.

Griffin knows something about the power of technology: He used it to improve animal waste disposal and biosecurity for farms, netting himself a fortune and the means to build the Informatics Center with his $6 million gift. Did we mention the building is named Griffin Hall?

The ability to experiment freely in a state-of-the-art facility will doubtless lead to stunning innovations and advancements in the field of virtual worlds, and in the economy as a whole. Young kids who viewed virtual worlds merely as a hobby before now have a shining Mecca and an academic goal. What's more, schools without virtual worlds centers will feel increasingly out of touch.

What do you think? Will the NKU Informatics Center change how companies and the government work?

4 thoughts on “Northern Kentucky Univ. Gets a $6 Million Virtual Worlds Mecca”

  1. The article didn’t mention virtual worlds. The building is a RL building and the funding is to help construct an academic center with computing power to enable simulations. I don’t see any tie-in with virtual worlds at all with this $6 million award. The C.A.V.E most likely won’t be a 3D world, but a 2D simulations software offering. No mention was made of any 3D software being considered.
    What’s this all mean? The $6 million isn’t going to do a thing for virtual worlds.

  2. Coyle, interesting point, but keep in mind that not all virtual worlds are
    graphical 3D worlds. They range from things looking like Second Life to
    non-graphical MUDs. I’ve been both used for economics and psychology
    research at my old school, George Mason.

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