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Passports not needed: NMSU Alamogordo virtual reality lab allows students to explore

With the use of innovative technology, all it takes to discover exciting places and new experiences is donning a headset. NMSU Alamogordo students and the community now have a virtual reality lab to take advantage of the opportunity. 

The Aggie I-Lab, which opened in October 2022, provides NMSU Alamogordo faculty with the opportunity to offer interactive learning to their classrooms, and the simulated experiences help prepare students for careers. 

“With the introduction of virtual reality and other technologies like artificial intelligence, education is changing at a breathtaking pace, and we need to keep up,” says Sofia Ugarte, Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant director. “By demystifying these technologies and making them available to the NMSU-A community we are hoping to support and encourage that change, to keep students motivated and engaged.” 

The Aggie I-Lab is a collaboration between Ready, Commit, Continue, and Complete called Project RC3 and Learn New Mexico. The U.S. Department of Education funds RC3 through a Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant with an aim to enhance and expand the capacity of NMSU-A to better serve Hispanic and low-income students by improving educational programs, infrastructure and support services. 

Lab participants use Oculus Quest 2 headsets and a content-related application for an enhanced and personalized learning experience, and experts from Learn New Mexico and NMSU Global provide guidance. 

“Immersive virtual reality has been proven to increase engagement and retention of learning content,” says Michelle Perry ’95 ’04, Learn New Mexico founder. “Students are typically drawn to the use of head mounted displays due to the novelty of the device, but more importantly because it provides interactive and immersive learning experiences together. Through use of the controllers, students can interact in a meaningful way with learning content and use apps that are relevant to their interests such as art, science and history.” 

Perry, who is slated to graduate with a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction in December 2023, conducted research for her dissertation using the Aggie I-Lab. 

“Without the use of the lab, it would have been very difficult to conduct this research,” Perry says. “The findings from the research will inform educator professional development strategies and content regarding immersive virtual reality in the classroom.” 

  “The Aggie I-Lab has been beneficial in collaborating with the image of NMSU-A as an institution that is looking to the future,” Ugarte says, “and willing to innovate in order to provide an excellent education for their students.” 





Gabriel De Cristo Silva uses an Oculus Quest 2 headset in the Aggie I-Lab at NMSU Alamogordo. The lab opened in October 2022, and it allows faculty to offer interactive learning to their classrooms.