Department: Mechanical Engineering
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James Oliver, Larry and Pam Pithan Professor of Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, currently serves as Director of Iowa State University’s Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) – an interdisciplinary research center focused on emerging interface technologies serving 40 faculty, 160 graduate and 120 undergraduate student researchers, with more than $20M of contract research in process. Professor Oliver also directs ISU’s Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) that complements the VRAC’s research mission by providing PhD, MS, and Professional Certificate degrees in HCI, with more than 150 students currently enrolled. At the VRAC, Oliver recently led fund raising, technical specification, and management of a $5M upgrade to the C6 – now the world’s highest resolution (100M pixel) fully immersive VR room.
Professor Oliver’s current research, teaching and economic development activities span a wide array of human computer interaction technologies, encompassing computer graphics, geometric modeling, virtual reality, and collaborative networks for applications in product development and complex system operation.
Previously, Professor Oliver served as Vice President of Product Development at Cognicity, Inc. a Minneapolis startup focused on Internet-based entertainment marketing. From 1997-2000 Oliver headed product development for Engineering Animation Inc. (NASDAQ:EAII, now part of Siemens PLM), where he led the creation of a unique Internet-based visual collaboration tool for supply chain integration.
Before his industrial leave, Professor Oliver had a successful ten-year career as an engineering professor, where he conducted research, taught, and administered a center focused on industrial applications of computer graphics and virtual reality. In addition to numerous industrial sponsors, Professor Oliver has secured funding for his research from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the US Army RDECOM. He received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1986. Professor Oliver is a Fellow of the ASME, holds three U.S. patents, and is the recipient of numerous professional honors and awards.