Want to learn how to create virtual reality (VR) and augmented experiences (AR) in Vancouver? There’s an academy for that

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      The virtual and augmented reality industries are booming—and Vancouver is emerging as one of the frontrunners. The medical, mining, and gaming industries are all thriving in the city, with lower mainland companies being recognized internationally for their creative output.

      Over the past two years, the number of local VR and AR companies has exploded from 15 to over 150, with the headcount of employees mounting as each continues to grow. As a result, companies have been forced to scour the globe to find developers with the talent to build their products.

      Local establishment VRAR.academy, however, aims to bring that search closer to home.

      The first VR and AR-only educational establishment in the city, the academy trains Vancouverites in virtual and augmented reality design and development. Led by Jordan Brighton and Lee Brighton, the pair behind successful local startup Virtro, the institution will offer part-time classes commencing in April, and full-time education from May.

      Both streams offer the opportunity to work on real projects—some of which are in commercial production. The establishment's full-time courses provide the chance for the students’ names to be presented in the game credits, which remains an important factor in securing a job after graduation, while the part-time classes let pupils specialize in topics such as UX and UI. Scheduling evening and weekend sessions as well as a daytime program load, VRAR.academy caters to all those with coding skills looking to carve a niche in the virtual and augmented reality space.

      “The VRAR.academy differentiates itself by offering a full-time experiential learning course based around agile student development teams who build apps and games to release commercially,” establishment founder and CEO Lee Brighton says. “Jordan and I have been educating students and adults in coding and new technologies since the 1990s, as one of the world’s first SaaS web businesses. We are delighted to be launching a new program in Vancouver that focuses on our passion—virtual and augmented reality”.

      The academy’s key selling point is its tie to Virtro. A VR/AR game development platform, the company has released five new titles in the past few months, and is currently working on a second Playstation VR game for release in the fall. Virtro will partner with the VRAR.academy to offer hands-on experience to its students, and let individuals experience the realities of working with a local firm.

      The establishment is committed to encouraging under-represented groups to join the industry. Offering discounts to minorities and women, the VRAR.academy aims to create a diverse set of graduates who can shape the future of the technology.

      VR, AR, and 3D development is, as the Straight first reported, one of Vancouver’s fastest growing industries, and has already led to the creation of 17,000 jobs, as well as more than $2.3 billion in revenue for the province. By helping fill the talent shortage in the city, the VRAR.academy hopes to help drive the industry forward.

      Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays