Meet Ellie Cochran | Pre-College Intro to Virtual Reality instructor

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Monday, January 6th, 2020

Do you love virtual reality and want to learn more about how to design your own VR experiences? This winter, PCA&D is offering a pre-college Introduction to Virtual Reality on Saturdays starting February 1. This course will introduce high school students to the basics of building interactive virtual reality worlds which can be shared on VR devices, on the web, or on any smartphone headset! And the person leading this course is our own Ellie Cochran. Ellie is a graduate of PCA&D and a graphic designer, and we’re so excited to have her back on campus.

Ellie was born in Pittsburgh and moved to Lancaster to attend PCA&D, where she pursued herBFA degree in graphic design. She is now a graphic designer at the Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition and continues to engage in freelance design work. We asked Ellie to share a bit more about herself and the Introduction to VR course.


Tell us a little more about your interest in VR and your pre-college class?

EC: I’ve always been interested in the intersection of art and technology. Attending a creative arts magnet high school gave me the opportunity to deeply explore that interest. In college, I focused my thesis on augmented reality art, a subset of virtual reality. These early experiences showed me the potential of this budding technology, and pushed me to explore it further.

This semester I’m teaching an introductory course on creating Virtual Reality worlds for pre-college students. In it they will learn the fundamentals of VR – how it works, how it’s used, and the state of the industry. We’ll be using an open-source HTML-based framework for web VR called A-Frame to create our worlds. We will meet on Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm starting Feb. 1, and the course is worth one college credit. The workflow we will cover can be used to create anything from simple static scenes to complex interactive environments.


What are you most excited about for this class?

EC: One exciting experience, that will occur toward the end of the course, will be adding interactivity to our worlds so that the viewer is able to make their space come alive through gaze or touch. Ultimately, I’m most excited to get the next generation of designers, developers, and artists as hyped as I am for the possibilities of these new technologies. After all, every novel user interface needs designers.


What are some of the most important takeaways that prospective students should know about your class? These are the main outcomes of the course.

EC: The HTML and JavaScript skills that will be covered in this course are useful for more than just virtual reality; these are also the fundamental building blocks for creating content on the web. I want to show that this technology is accessible, and the bar to entry is lower than you might think.


What do you do for fun when you’re not teaching/working?

EC: Over the past couple years I’ve been teaching myself guitar! None of the instruments I’m familiar with have had the same feeling of self-expression I get from playing it, and it’s exciting because there are always new things to learn.


Registration is open for the Pre-College Introduction to Virtual Reality class. Register today or email us at ce@pcad.edu with questions.