LIFT working with Detroit STEM students on virtual game

render_newlogo-copyLightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) and Tennessee Tech University (TTU) hosted students from college prep school Detroit Institute of Technology at Cody in Detroit on September 30, 2015 to experience its newly-unveiled, world-class “LIFT Assembly Line” Virtual Reality (VR)  game, illustrating the power of lightweighting in the automotive industry.
The event was held at LIFT’s headquarters in Detroit’s Corktown area.
The day’s activities launched the new VR system at LIFT. The LIFT Assembly Line utilizes an innovative VR technology that allows users to experience a manufacturing floor as if they are part of the production process.
“We can talk about the power of lightweighting but there is nothing like touching and feeling it, including virtually,” said Larry Brown, executive director, LIFT. “This incredible learning tool, created by TTU, brings the automotive production process into the classroom with technology and an approach that will truly engage our future workforce and others.”
The competition-style VR demonstration game pitted participating students against one another to see who could manufacture the car that traveled the farthest utilizing lightweight parts. Wearing Oculus Rift goggles, participants moved through LIFT’s virtual reality automotive assembly line as parts were released around them on a conveyor belt. Four options for each part of the vehicle varied by type of materials used, the ideal being the lightweight manufacturing option.
“Engaging today’s youth at an early age with fun and exciting technology like virtual reality is imperative as we aim to stimulate students’ interest in the opportunities and educational pathways that lead to rewarding, in-demand advanced manufacturing jobs,” said Emily DeRocco, education and workforce director, LIFT. “We’re thrilled at the prospects for learning and engagement not only for students but also industry partners.”
LIFT begins its use of VR as a learning tool with 7 computer stations equipped with TTU’s VR program and sets of Oculus Rift goggles. The technology experience will ultimately be available to thousands of students, teachers, industry partners and other LIFT visitors. This could be the beginning of a new format not only for students but also for industry to train its workers without having to travel. Virtual reality is a new frontier in manufacturing education and training.
“It has been quite rewarding to partner with LIFT and bring our innovative iCube-developed virtual reality content to Detroit,” TTU President Phil Oldham said. “This tech platform truly is going to change how people and our young generation view advanced manufacturing. The iCube environment at TTU changes the way we educate and train our tech-savvy students, who will be outstanding when they enter the workforce, in this continuously changing world of information technology. We are all about what iCube stands for — imagine, inspire and innovate.”
For more information about LIFT and TTU’s VR technology, and other LIFT education and workforce development initiatives, visit or contact LIFT Workforce & Education Director, Emily DeRocco, at

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