Virtual reality program educates aspiring winemakers


It’s easier than ever now to explore the career of wine-making and still keep your day job, using a virtual reality program.

Michigan State University gaming students helped create virtual reality and simulation courses for a national wine and grape education program.

Tom Smith is with the Institute of Agriculture Technology at MSU.

“The beauty of this is that students can basically prune that vine and they can fast forward in time to see what kind of response that vine gives them. And then they can go back and refine their pruning skills, what we call crop management skills, on that vine.”

The courses are through the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance, or VESTA.

Smith said students at MSU and at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City can take the courses as well.

“Our average age of student is about 42 years old. So most of the people, or half of the people say that are taking VESTA courses, may already be in the industry or they are thinking of taking a hobby and making it into a business. And many of them aren’t looking necessarily looking at earning a credential, like a certificate or associate’s degree, they already have it.”

The simulation and virtual reality courses are in their first year. Smith said MSU is working to refine the program.