Karmanos and FocuSSTEM NextGen win three prestigious TV and video awards, teaching students STEM through VR and XR experiences

Karmanos Cancer Institute and FocuSSTEM NextGen have found a new way to remotely engage students during the pandemic, which has earned both organizations three Telly Awards. The awards are in the Immersive & Mixed Reality category. The Remote STEM Camp in Virtual Reality (VR) won a silver Telly Award in the general subcategory for education and training. The Live Summit in Extended Reality (XR) was awarded a silver Telly in the general subcategory for virtual events and experiences, as well as a bronze Telly in the craft subcategory for the use of augmented reality (AR).

The partnership between Karmanos and FocuSSTEM provides exposure to science, technology, engineering and math to high school students in southeast Michigan. During the pandemic, both organizations rapidly changed gears to continue the program by using VR, XR and AR.

“It is critical to continue to educate and engage the next generation about exciting careers in healthcare and STEM,” said Elisabeth Heath, M.D., FACP, associate center director of Translational Sciences and leader of the Genitourinary Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at Karmanos. “Without consistent encouragement and awareness, the pipeline of promising young scientists and innovators will rapidly decline. As a community, we cannot afford this to happen.”

CrossComm, a custom software company, worked with Karmanos and FocuSSTEM to create immersive apps that allowed students to remotely experience STEM. The Remote STEM Camp in VR gave students real-world medical tasks in an intensive care unit (ICU), operating room and research lab. Students were given a VR headset to perform the tasks. During the Summit in XR, presenters were able to show 3D anatomical objects live in a VR space. This experience allowed students to interact with presenters and follow along while using the AR mobile app.

The Telly Awards honors excellence in video and television across all screens. The competition is judged by leaders from video platforms, television, streaming networks, production companies, all of which include Adobe, Netflix, Dow Jones, Duplass Brothers Productions, Complex Networks, Jennifer Garner, A&E Networks, Hearst Media, Nickelodeon, ESPN Films, RYOT, Partizan and Vimeo.