As Virginia Tech prepares for its 150th anniversary in 2022, the VT150: Visualizing Virginia Tech History team is experimenting with creative technologies to bring the university’s past to life. Projection mapping, digital exhibits, documentary video, and extended reality provide new ways of exploring overlooked such topics as Hokie women, student protest, and Black student life.

As a preview of the work, the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology sponsored a VT150: Visualizing Virginia Tech History playdate on November 13 at 9 a.m. Paul Quigley, the James I. Robertson Jr. Associate Professor in Civil War Studies in the Department of History, and other team members presented.

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The VT150: Visualizing Virginia Tech History team is a transdisciplinary group of faculty and students who use creative technologies to uncover hiddeen layers of the past. A major strand of the team’s work focuses on the hidden histories of Solitude, the oldest building on campus. Using wearable augmented reality technology, the team employs interviews with descendants of enslaved people, virtual tour guides, 19th-century documents, historical photos, and 3D building recreations to enable visitors to explore different layers of the past in this one place — the epicenter of the university's history.

Working under the auspices of the Council on Virginia Tech History, the team brings together research questions and methods from the Department of Computer Science, the Department of History, the School of Education, the School of Visual Arts, University Libraries, and VT Stories.

In addition to Quigley, team members from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences include Ren Harman, project manager for VT Stories; David Hicks, a professor in the School of Education; Katrina Powell, a professor of rhetoric and writing in the Department of English; and Jessica Taylor, an assistant professor in the Department of History. To learn more, visit the team’s website.