VISC - Investing In The Future
This article originally ran in the World Of Giving, Fall 2003. Photo Credits: Joe Kapelewski.
Ken Sochats, VISC director, and Matthew Kelley

When you enter the room, you can feel the buzz of excitement in the air as students work diligently at their workstations or chatter about the latest computing software.

This is commonplace in the Visual Information Systems Center (VISC) Laboratory. It is a place where students gain valuable hands-on experience working on projects that not only give them credit for class, but also enable them to develop and work on projects that could someday be distributed for public use.

Donations from Eli Lilly and Company make this real-world experience in the VISC Laboratory possible for students. Lilly's support aids research projects and research positions in the VISC.

"It is not uncommon for students to take it to the next level and work for Eli Lilly," notes Michael Bern (CAS '93), associate information consultant in Lilly's Discovery Information Technology Division. "Eli Lilly heavily recruits University of Pittsburgh students, with approximately 45 current information technology employees being Pitt alumni."

Currently, students in the VISC are developing software that has the potential to change the way people view the world and interact with one another. They are developing a three-dimensional virtual environment called "The Cave." One of its potential uses would allow emergency rescue teams to virtually learn about and practice navigating through public buildings prior to arriving on the scene. This would enable the first responders to simulate interaction in the given building and increase efficiency, while reducing potential safety hazards during rescue efforts.

Matthew Kelley, a recent Pitt graduate and current project supervisor in the VISC believes, "The VISC Laboratory is instrumental in cultivating tomorrow's innovators because it gives the freedom to learn and work with interesting topics, not just general course work."