Marquette University’s 3D visualization lab is a collaborative hub for groups from across campus and community partners

Christie's 3D CAVE technology helps students and faculty learn in an immersive environment

When considering a possible feature space for its new building in the Opus College of Engineering, Marquette University turned to Christie® to build a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE™). Dubbed the MARquette Visualization Lab (MARVL), it is a multi-disciplinary campus resource that promotes active learning within an immersive 3D environment.


After researching visualization labs across the country, and working with the needs of internal users, Marquette determined that the lab had to be capable of viewing volumetric data sets, offer real-time collaboration and be viewable by a large audience.

Working with Christie, the result is MARVL, an 18-foot by 9-foot room Illuminated by ten Christie® Mirage Series WU7K-M DLP projectors, with embedded Christie Twist™ for image blending and warping. The lab has space for 30 people to view 3D graphics, in near 4K resolution on the front wall, with the option of comparing and collaborating on content in ‘split-mode' when configured into two, three-sided CAVE environments.

Spearheaded by Dr. John LaDisa, director of the visualization lab and associate professor of biomedical engineering, MARVL is exceeding expectations. "I think the thing that I'm most happy about is just how much it's being used across the campus and southeastern Wisconsin. We've been open roughly 450 days and we've had 2,000 people through our doors. We've delivered almost 800 student experiences including full, one-hour classes showing content that is applicable to the courses students are in.

"I was just a user looking for a unique angle and unique way of getting more from my data in computational fluid dynamics, but there's just so much that can be done and so many people who come and are excited about the different things they can do," says LaDisa.

The immersive 3D capabilities of MARVL allows students to use the lab in unconventional ways. For example, MARVL partnered with students from Milwaukee Area Technical College's (MATC) Animation program to create a 3D exam room, complete with virtual supplies and monitors lining the walls, to allow undergraduate and graduate nursing students to practice in a simulated environment. Also, The Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette collaborated with MARVL to recreate Salvador Dali's Madonna of Port Lligat as a 3D interactive painting. "It has been amazing to watch it go from a classroom, to seeing a group of industry personnel walking through it, then having a physician come over and look through an artery. We even have immersive fitness classes in here…we have changed it into a sports and fitness studio," says LaDisa.

"At last check, about three-quarters of all schools and colleges across campus have ongoing projects in the labs. It's been even more of a location for collaboration than we anticipated from initial interviews with faculty."

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