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VT150: Visualizing 150 Years of Virginia Tech History

VT150: Visualizing 150 Years of Virginia Tech History

Paul Quigley, faculty member in the VT History Department, leads the VT150: Visualizing Virginia Tech History project team under the auspices of the Council on VT History.  Paul Quigley is Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies (facebook and  twitter) and James I. Robertson, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil War History in the History Department at Virginia Tech.

Paul Quigley
Paul Quigley

"Standing in the very places where history happened, using the latest technology to layer old photos onto the real world or see video of descendants of the people who once lived here, is truly remarkable. Bringing together questions and methods from different disciplines has opened up new ways of seeing, understanding, and presenting Virginia Tech's complex history. This is transdisciplinary experiential learning in action."

— Paul Quigley

In addition to the History Department, this interdisciplinary collaboration brings together students and faculty from the School of Visual Arts, VT Libraries, Department of Computer Science, VT Stories, and School of Education. Faculty team members, most of them affiliated with CHCI,  are Doug Bowman, Ren Harman, David Hicks, Todd Ogle, Jessica Taylor, and Thomas Tucker.  Current student collaborators include: Kenny Barnes, Nicolas Gutkowski, Emily Humes, Bradley Kraft, Anza Mitchell, Alexandra O'Dea, and Suzanne Shelburne.

VT150: Visualizing 150 Years of Virginia Tech History

As VT prepares for its 150th anniversary in 2022, the 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 topics like Hokie women, student protests, and Black student life. A major strand of the team’s work focuses on the hidden histories of Solitude, the oldest building on campus.

Computer Science student viewing Solitude through smartphone, 2019
Computer Science student viewing Solitude through smartphone, 2019

Using wearable AR technology, the team employed 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. 

"Standing in the very places where history happened, using the latest technology to layer old photos onto the real world or see video of descendants of the people who once lived here, is truly remarkable. Bringing together questions and methods from different disciplines has opened up new ways of seeing, understanding, and presenting Virginia Tech's complex history. This is transdisciplinary experiential learning in action." Paul Quigley

Video links:

Student protest projection mapping experience and Augmented Reality walking tour

ICAT Day 2020 trailer

360 degree video featuring highlights from our in-progress Solitude tour

Catch Paul Quigley’s talk about the VT 150 Project at the CHCI ICAT Playdate on Friday, November 13, 2020 (9-9:30 am EST) via livestream.

See also this VT News article