Naga student in New York develops VR tech to enhance edu techniques

Bendangtoshi T Dominica Jamir

Bendangtoshi T Dominica Jamir

DIMAPUR, APRIL 9 (MExN): A young Naga studying in New York is using Virtual Reality (VR) technology to enhance traditional learning. 

Bendangtoshi T Dominica Jamir from Dimapur, Nagaland currently in New York City, will in May this year, graduate from the New York Technical Institute (New York Tech) with a Master’s in User Experience/User Interface (UX/UI) Design and Development. 

Her  web-based platform enhances traditional learning through VR. Jamir’s Master thesis project, in collaboration with PhD professors’ lesson-plans and logistical input, combined her computer engineering and VR skills to create a web-based platform of VR modules as prototypes, for use in enhanced, immersive 3D education. 

She submitted her VR project and won the ‘Best Practitioner Poster Proposal’ award by the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN) at the iLRN 2020 Conference. iLRN is an international organization of developers, educators, and research professionals collaborating to develop the scientific, technical, and applied potential of immersive learning.
Her fascination with VR tech can be traced to her childhood. Jamir says, as a child, she was inclined to “think out of the box.”

“I consider myself introverted, non-conformist, forward-thinking and an artist who is also into emerging technologies, gaming, creative arts, and culture. In retrospect, I discovered these were some of the personality traits that catapulted me to New York City and opened up the world for me,” she said.

Kolkata-born and Dimapur-raised, Jamir recalls discovering computers, gaming, and related technology as mentally stimulating, engaging and quite easy to grasp, growing up. From her early days at Holy Cross and Don Bosco Higher Secondary  School Dimapur; then DSCE, Bangalore where she earned a BE in Computer Science and Engineering, she says, “collectively motivated her to aim higher.”  

After graduating from Bangalore, while in Kolkata, working as a temporary graphic designer in 2018, Jamir discovered a dire need to reduce the complexity and bridge the technological gap between everyday users and modern technology. 

“My focus moved to getting a higher education to understand how the back-end of new technologies connected to the front-end to provide users of new products the best experiences,” she recalled.

To enable that objective, she said, “New York City was the logical step for me to expand my career and challenge myself to achieve extraordinary levels of excellence in the AR/VR, (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality) UX/UI arenas.” Jamir’s master’s application was accepted by New York Tech, within two weeks of her applying in 2019.

Among her various curriculum subjects was VR, which Jamir immersed herself in, spending much time exploring this exciting technology.  Her enthusiasm and abilities were quickly noticed by her thesis professor who she revealed, encouraged her to work on a New York Tech in-house project to ideate, then create the prototypes in a VR environment for enhanced and immersive learning experiences. VR, as it turned out, became the core of her master thesis which contributed to winning the iLRN Award.

 “VR-learning can be a boon for students limited by socially distanced education as well as for global remote learners – as long as they have reliable internet,” she said. “It appears inevitable that this burgeoning, relatively new VR technology becomes mainstream in our daily lives” Jamir added.

Jamir believes there is a compelling need to increase public awareness of VR-enhanced education, its value, and benefits to society. Trained motivated teachers, adept at using web-based VR educational material - via headsets, PCs, tablets, or mobile phones - as needed, can inspire students, and impart lessons successfully, she stated.

In addition to her college projects, Jamir worked part-time on campus, as a Graduate Assistant. She assisted VR/AR teaching on campus and coached NYIT workshops at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) and Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York.

Asked about her inspiration to excel, Jamir revealed how “years ago my grandmother in Calcutta provided guardianship to two Anglo-Indian orphaned cousins. One emigrated to the USA in the 80’s, and he and I have had many open and honest phone conversations since I was little.” 

He consistently encouraged her to focus, eliminate self-doubt and improve her self-confidence and was the catalyst for her profound life-change; in supporting her transition to NYC and education.