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Rep. Bustos touts new Bradley-Air Force partnership on VR tech

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PEORIA (WEEK) -- A future partnership could see Bradley's Interactive Media partner with the U.S. Air Force and the University of Dayton on integrating augmented and virtual reality into their operations.

Representative Cheri Bustos is working on securing an $8 million grant to help make the partnership happen. It's a venture by the Department of Defense to integrate VR and AR tech practically.

After a tour of the Bradley's Interactive Media Department Tuesday, Bustos says its great to see a nationally recognized program thriving in Central Illinois.

"This is a wow moment, to be able to go through this entire department and to see what students at both the undergraduate level and the graduate level are accomplishing right here in Peoria, Illinois," Bustos said.

In March, The Princeton Review ranked Bradley's program 9th in the nation for visual and augmented reality design. Students in the program have also worked with NASA on software to display on the inside of astronaut helmets.

The director of the program Ethan Ham says students also have big aspirations for life after graduation.

"The animation students, their dream is to always go on to Disney and Pixar," Ham said. "Our game students want to go to game studios, and they all do that, but they also do other things as well."

Ham says some of the other applications include working with places like OSF or tech startups that use virtual and augmented reality technology.

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Alex Gaul

Alex Gaul joined WEEK 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC in January 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist. He formerly worked for KPNX-TV and KAET-TV, both in Phoenix, Arizona. The Illinois-native is an alum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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