Virtual Reality, Tangible Benefits: C.J. Reilly III | Arts and Humanities

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Virtual Reality, Tangible Benefits: C.J. Reilly III

More than 70 percent of Nepal’s population is involved in agriculture, but because of damage wrought by climate change and other forces, two in three Nepalese experience food insecurity yearly. More than a third of the population suffers from stunting.

As part of its food security efforts, the government of Nepal has made a concerted push for more innovative crop choices and growing methodologies. Macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia), a good source of both food and income, is a cash crop of interest.

“Macadamia nuts are much sought after, but you need really high-quality product to compete on the world market,” says C.J. Reilly III, who received his M.A. in Art & Art Education in May. “They have to be taste-approved, have a tough outer skin and be insect resistant.”

Reaching those standards can only be achieved through best practices in nursery and grafting management. Prior to attending TC, both in the U.S. Peace Corps and working with HELVETAS Nepal (Switzerland’s International Development Agency), Reilly developed, designed, and supported illustrated and videotaped trainings for Nepalese farmers and field technicians, among whom literacy rates are low, in these critically important techniques.

And at TC, he went a step further. Working in the Myers Studio, Reilly used 3-D printing to create tree models on which farmers could practice the grafting techniques. The models were created exactly to scale, using scanned specifications of actual trees.

“TC’s maker space and such tools as virtual reality, 3-D printing and scanning allowed me to look at how I could design educational tools to help streamline the learning process for Nepali farmers and their communities,” Reilly says. “These tools are an extension, the way that once you can read, you can read history, science or anything. You have autonomy.”

In September, Reilly will begin a seven-month assignment in the Philippines with the title of U.S. Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Rural Planning and Development Specialist. In the meantime, he’s grateful to TC Art & Art Education faculty members Mary Hafeli and Richard Jochum; Jessie Jagktani, a doctoral student who functioned as his adviser and Sean Justice, now a faculty member at Texas State University, who helped him navigate TC’s 3D printer.

“I was this nobody master’s student, yet everybody was really open-minded, flexible and supportive of my ideas, even before they could see any results.”

Now they can.

Reposted from the TC Newsroom

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