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EIM Students and Faculty Drive Innovation in VR and AI Research through the BEACoN Research Scholars Program

Cal Poly’s Experience Industry Management represented the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences at this year's BEACoN Research Kickoff event for 2024. This year, Dr. Ye (Sandy) Shen and Dr. Pei Zhang are mentoring two EIM students, Aja Tsutumi and Stephanie Alexander, for their research projects. Aja is collaborating with Dr. Shen on testing the design of a VR hotel experience. Together, they are investigating how VR hotel experiences can effectively convey sustainability messages and improve accessibility. Their research involves the use of eye-tracking and skin conductance sensors.

Dr. Zhang and Stephanie are researching power dynamics as a result of collaboration between hospitality employees and AI. The current research aims to explore the design and adoption of hospitality service robots, with a focus on developing a new framework that addresses the diverse aspects of human-AI collaboration. This project will provide new insights in understanding the evolving power dynamics among key participants in the hospitality industry.

On January 12, the dynamic duos attended the BEACoN kickoff reception at the Performing Arts Center on campus. Dr. Shen represented the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) on the Faculty Mentor Professional Development Panel. Dr. Shen gave an inspiring introduction to her project as well as the Experience Industry Management department, highlighting the importance of the growth in our industry.

The Experience Innovation Lab has played a vital role in providing opportunities for students and faculty to engage in research and experiment with various technologies. The eye trackers and skin conductance sensors have been used in various Experience Industry Management research projects in the past and will also be used in Dr Shen’s project. Our Lab is providing an innovative space for EIM’s BEACoN scholars as well as our students to apply new technology and research findings to the industry’s most pressing challenges.

As the BEACoN Scholars reach the halfway point of their research, Aja Tsutumi's hard work was duly acknowledged as she won the inaugural student research competition with her exceptional presentation. On Thursday, February 29, Aja alongside Dr. Ye (Sandy) Shen, Dr. Jinah Park, Dr. Yeqiang (Kevin) Lin, presented the “Virtual Experiences for Promoting Sustainability Messages and Creating Accessibility" project at the Research to Practice Symposium at the California Park and Recreation Society annual conference.

The BEACoN program has been an integral part for students’ success like Aja. This program provided the funds for the transportation to the conference that was held in Palm Springs California. This program has benefited thousands of underrepresented students to empower them in their studies and help advance them into their professional careers. If you would like to read more about this program, the current research projects, or want to learn how to apply , check out their site here.

Our department is proud to support Aja and Stephanie as they embark on their respective projects under the mentorship of our esteemed faculty. We look forward to seeing the finished projects at the end of Spring Quarter 2024. The team is presenting their final findings at the Spring BEACoN symposium on June 12, 2024.

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