FIU partners on altered reality studio

FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) has partnered with virtual reality purveyor Bridgegate Pictures to create iSTAR, the Immersive Studio for Altered Reality, at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus (BBC).

Supported by a $1.2 million donation from Bridgegate Pictures, iSTAR is set to open in Fall 2018 and will provide FIU students vital career training in the creation of virtual reality and augmented reality. Goldman Sachs estimates this industry will grow to $95 billion by 2025.

CARTA Dean Brian Schriner and Bridgegate CEO Lee Caplin created the program together to help position FIU students to earn jobs with companies leading the industry, including Oculus VR, Sony and Google. The program will also provide students mentorship and hands-on internship opportunities with Bridgegate that will further prepare them for employment.

“The future is here with augmented and virtual reality impacting every area of our lives,” Schriner said. “This partnership is an essential part of keeping our students ahead of the curve by giving them the tools to lead in the industry with the innovation and global-facing focus we are known for as a university.”

A longtime supporter of FIU, Caplin serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for CARTA. He co-founded Penske Media Corporation, which owns and operates such brands as Variety Magazine and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is known for such works as the Academy award-nominated film “Ali,” starring Will Smith.

The program will reside in a dedicated portion of Academic Center-II, a building at BBC that houses communications studies, including digital media and journalism. It will feature a lab, theater, classrooms and offices. Bridgegate Pictures will design, construct and operate the facility.

“This type of philanthropic partnership is key to advancing our FIU and graduating students who are workforce ready,” said Howard Lipman, CEO of FIU Foundation, Inc. “Philanthropy powers the engines of student success and research preeminence – two key areas that help FIU fulfill its mission in our communities.”

Bridgegate Pictures President & Executive Producer Guy Griffithe said the company looks forward to teaching FIU students the “full gamut of the creative, administrative and business sides of the virtual reality world.”