News 2021: Inter-disciplinary team of faculty receive $99,947 National Endowment for the Humanities grant
Inter-disciplinary team of faculty receive $99,947 National Endowment for the Humanities grant

The project, led by Associate Professor Anthony Arrigo, will explore the history of the Hoover Dam using virtual reality

Hoover Dam being contructed
The Hoover Dam being constructed in 1934

The National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced $33M in awards for 213 humanities projects nationwide, including $99,947 for “VR Hoover Dam: A Virtual Reality Game Exploring the History and Construction of an American Icon,” led by Associate Professor Anthony Arrigo (English & Communication).

VR Hoover Dam aims to use virtual reality to introduce the public to a historically based, photorealistic educational experience centered on the construction of one of the most iconic structures in the world. VR Hoover Dam combines cutting edge-technologies with current humanities scholarship to create an interactive, 4-dimensional game that takes place within the landscape of the 1930s Black Canyon site where Hoover Dam was built.

“Our team is very excited for this opportunity to build engaging, interdisciplinary educational content using cutting-edge technologies. We’re going to be attempting some things that have never been done before in VR, and so we’re looking forward to getting started,” said Arrigo.

Student wearing a VR headset
VR Hoover Dam will utilize cutting-edge virtual reality technology

To accomplish the task of bringing the history of the Hoover Dam to life through virtual reality, Arrigo has built a team of faculty researchers from across the University. Included in the project are Associate Professor Shakhnoza Kayumova (STEM Education & Teacher Development) and Professor Scott Ahrens (Art & Design). By utilizing faculty expertise in various fields of study, the game will allow players to interact with and learn about historical figures, get a sense of what it was like to live and work at the dam, and to understand Hoover Dam's tremendous importance and wide-ranging impacts. VR Hoover Dam will allow participants to stand at any spot at the damsite and see the construction at any phase, on any date, from any vantage, in photo-realistic VR.

The latest slate of NEH grants “support innovative digital projects for the public, humanities initiatives on college campuses, and infrastructure projects at cultural institutions.” VR Hoover Dam was one of only 17 Digital Projects awarded nationwide.