Shenandoah University Bachelor of Science in virtual reality (VR) design student Michael Reynolds ’25 is building a VR career while still a student, courtesy of his degree program.
“I’m fascinated by VR’s potential to revolutionize how we interact with digital content,” Reynolds said. “The blend of creativity and technology to create immersive experiences offers endless possibilities for innovation.” That last word – innovation – is of paramount importance to Reynolds.
He discovered Shenandoah while seeking out innovative tech programs in higher education.
The unique focus on VR and AR at Shenandoah immediately stood out to me. The program’s comprehensive coverage of immersive technologies like VR, AR, and XR was a significant draw. The promise of hands-on experience in these fields and the opportunity to work on real-world applications was precisely what I was looking for in a program.”
Michael Reynolds ’25 | Bachelor of Science in Virtual Reality Design
Since joining Shenandoah’s VR degree program, he’s worked as a research assistant for Associate Professor of Virtual & Augmented Reality Mohammad Obeid, Ph.D., and in this role and through his studies, he’s taken part in several cutting-edge VR projects. “I participated in developing a simulation platform to train users to assemble and assess industrial-grade drones, specifically the Innocon MiniFalcon,” he said. “This project, supported by the National Science Foundation, allows students to learn how to handle complex drone systems in a virtual setting, which includes modes like learning, practice, and assessment. This hands-on experience was invaluable in understanding the practical applications of VR in training and education.”
He’s also had some significant accomplishments using generative artificial intelligence (AI) to generate conversations. In one case, he developed generative AI for “The Great Experiment,” a VR experience that allows users to interact with the founders of the United States during the 1787 Constitutional Debates about the Electoral College in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. “The Founding Fathers’ use case allows users to have unscripted conversations with AI versions of Benjamin Franklin, Elbridge Gerry, George Washington, and James Wilson,” Reynolds said. “The Founding Fathers’ use case was showcased in Williamsburg for an event hosted by the Omohundro Institute.”
The second generative AI project focuses on Shenandoah itself. Reynolds said it “allows users to interact with AI versions of students with deep knowledge of the university and the Winchester Main Campus.”
He said that the projects are the most exciting aspect of his studies and they’ve shown him the “vast potential” for using VR across disciplines and fields. “The ability to bring complex concepts to life and the creative freedom to design immersive experiences are incredibly exciting.”
He’s also excited about sharing the work of the VR program with anyone interested in knowing more about it. He offered an open invitation to students to come visit the Shenandoah Center for Immersive Learning (SCiL) Lab, currently located in the Cecil Pruitt, Jr. Health & Life Sciences Building. “It’s open to anyone, no matter your major. You can try the different VR or AR headsets or hang out in the lab,” he said, adding that he would encourage anyone interested in majoring in VR to check out Shenandoah for “its dynamic and innovative approach to VR and AR. The hands-on experience and supportive academic environment make it an ideal place for anyone looking to explore and shape the future of immersive technologies.”
After he graduates with his virtual reality degree and leaves Shenandoah’s Winchester, Virginia, campus, he hopes to enter a career that combines his VR skills with his love of simulation engineering. “I’m particularly interested in working in sectors like education and entertainment, where I can utilize immersive technologies to create engaging and impactful experiences.” And, the resume and portfolio of work he’s built at Shenandoah will show that he has the experience needed to start the career of his dreams.