CSCI 5619
Virtual Reality and 3D Interaction

Class Hours: T/Th 2:30-3:45pm
Location: MCB 3-120

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Instructor: Evan Suma Rosenberg (he/him/his)
Office Hours: T/Th 4:00-5:00pm
Location: Keller Hall 6-201
Email: suma at umn dot edu


TA: Daniel Keyes (he/him/his)
Office Hours:
M 1:00-2:00pm
Th 12:00-2:30pm
FR 2:00-4:00pm
Location: Keller Hall 2-208
Email: keyes135 at umn dot edu

Course Overview

The goal of this course to provide a comprehensive overview of the state-of-the art in virtual reality technologies and user interfaces.  Classroom topics will include 3D display systems, motion tracking, spatial interaction techniques (navigation, selection, manipulation, system control), and virtual experience design.  Students will learn how to develop virtual reality applications through hands-on programming assignments using Oculus Quest headsets and by playing and critically discussing commercial VR games.  Theoretical knowledge gained during the first half of the course will be evaluated through a midterm exam and applied practically in a final project.  There will be no final exam in this course.

Learning Objectives

Students will gain a deep understanding of the theoretical foundations, hardware/software technologies, and design principles for the creation of virtual reality experiences. Major learning objectives include:

  • Understanding immersive input/output devices and systems
  • Design and implementation of spatial interaction techniques, including:
    • Navigation
    • Selection
    • Manipulation
    • System control
  • Learning to think critically about what makes a virtual reality experience effective and compelling (and conversely, what doesn’t)
  • Gaining experience in designing and developing a virtual reality project that applies 3D user interface best practices


Students must be self-motivated, interested in thinking critically about 3D interaction, and willing to commit approximately 4-6 hours per week outside of class on assigned readings, virtual reality programming assignments, and project development. Familiarity with basic concepts of computer graphics and/or prior experience with the Unity game engine is beneficial, but not required.


Understanding Virtual Reality (Second Edition)
Paperback ISBN: 9780128183991
eBook ISBN: 9780128010389

Note: Students can download a digital version of the textbook for free at the link above through the university library’s subscription to ScienceDirect.  Purchase of a hard copy is completely optional.


  • 40% – Programming Assignments
  • 25% – Midterm Exam
  • 25% – Final Project
  • 10% – Class Participation


Regular attendance is expected in this course; class participation will count towards the final grade. However, students will not be penalized for absence during the semester due to unavoidable or legitimate circumstances, including: verified illness, participation in intercollegiate athletic events, subpoenas, jury duty, military service, bereavement, and religious observances.  Students are encouraged to discuss potential absences with the instructor in advance and provide documentation, if applicable.

Late Policy

Assignments in this course will have an explicitly defined grace period during which late work will be accepted.  Late assignments can be submitted up until the end of this grace period with a penalty of 20%.   No assignments will be accepted after the grace period deadline without prior permission from the instructor.

The instructor understands that factors beyond a student’s control can sometimes result in missed classes or coursework.  If you anticipate trouble in submitting an assignment on time, you are encouraged to contact the instructor to discuss your situation as early as possible, preferably before the deadline.  For additional information, please refer to the University’s policy on Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences.

Student Conduct

The University seeks to establish an environment that promotes academic achievement and integrity, is protective of free inquiry, and serves its educational mission. Similarly, the University seeks a community that is free from violence, threats, and intimidation; that is respectful of the rights, opportunities, and welfare of students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University; and that does not threaten the physical or mental health or safety of members of the University community. As a student at the University, you are expected to adhere to the student conduct code and familiarize yourself with student responsibilities regarding teaching and learning.  More information about these policies can be found at the links below.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is essential to a positive teaching and learning environment. All students enrolled in university courses are expected to complete coursework responsibilities with fairness and honesty. Failure to do so by seeking unfair advantage over others or misrepresenting someone else’s work as your own, can result in disciplinary action. The University Student Conduct Code defines scholastic dishonesty as follows: Scholastic dishonesty means plagiarizing; cheating on assignments or examinations; engaging in unauthorized collaboration on academic work; taking, acquiring, or using course materials without faculty permission; submitting false or incomplete records of academic achievement; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement; altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record; or fabricating or falsifying data, research procedures, or data analysis. Within this course, a student responsible for scholastic dishonesty can be assigned a penalty up to and including an F or N for the course. If you have any questions regarding the expectations for a specific assignment or exam, ask.

For assignments and projects involving programming, it may be acceptable to use third party software libraries, art assets, or code only if the following conditions are met: (1) the assignment explicitly states that third party content is permitted, (2) the third party content is not utilized to solve the portion of the assignment that is required to be implemented solely by the student, and (3) all third party content is disclosed, including its source (e.g. link to website, github repository, or asset store), in the documentation submitted with the assignment. All other uses of third party content will be treated as a form of scholastic dishonesty. Again, if you have any questions about the usage of third party content in a programming assignment or project, ask.

Grading Policies

This course will follow the University’s policies on Grading and Transcripts and Expected Student Academic Work per Credit.  Students are encouraged to review these policies so they are familiar with the general expectations for the course.

Students should be aware that a grade of I (incomplete) can be assigned only under extraordinary circumstances: to be eligible, a student must have kept up with all of the required coursework to date and must have been prevented by an unforeseeable emergency from completing the remainder of the coursework on time.

Disability Accommodation

The University of Minnesota values diverse identities and experiences, and honors disability as an important aspect of human diversity. The Disability Resource Center (DRC) works in partnership with students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University to eliminate or minimize barriers and facilitate inclusion on campus.  If you have (or think you may have) a disability, please consult the student resources at the website above to find out more information about how the DRC can help in arranging for reasonable accommodation.

Mental Health

As a student, you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating, or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce your ability to participate in daily activities.  The University offers services to assist students in addressing these issues or other concerns that you may be experiencing.  You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available for students at www.mentalhealth.umn.edu.

Sexual Misconduct

The University of Minnesota is committed to responding compassionately and discreetly when it learns that a University member may have experienced sexual misconduct. University employees are required to report information about possible sexual misconduct to the office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA). After a report is made, an EOAA staff member will reach out to the impacted person in an email to provide information about the available resources for personal support and accommodations, as well as options for investigation. EOAA will not share the impacted person’s information or initiate an investigation unless the impacted person wants this, except where there may be a significant danger to campus safety or where an employee may have engaged in sexual misconduct. In these cases, EOAA will only share information as necessary to respond to the reported sexual misconduct.

The University also offers confidential resources (including victim-survivor advocates, health center employees, and counselors) that will not share information about sexual misconduct that they learn about.  More information is available at the Aurora Center for Advocacy & Education.

Conflict Resolution

The Student Conflict Resolution Center offers informal conflict resolution services to resolve students’ university-based problems and concerns.