Fulbright US Scholar Brenda Lopez Silva was the Fulbright Scholar in Communication & Media Studies / Polytechnic of Lisbon during 2021/2022 and shares her Fulbright Experience teaching XR in Lisbon:

” I arrived in February 2022 in Lisbon as a Fulbright scholar, ready to teach eXtended Reality (XR) at Instituto Politecnico de Lisboa (IPL). I was enthusiastic about immersing myself in Portuguese culture as quickly as possible.

Upon my arrival, I met other Fulbrighters and heard about their experiences in Portugal. I was welcomed at the Escola Superior de Comunicação Social and quickly became familiar with the environment.

I met with the faculty members to discuss my participation and to establish a path for teaching three technology-related courses at ESCS. Augmented Reality and Real-Time Interaction to undergraduate students, and Comunicação Multimédia class as part of the master’s program. My involvement in these courses allowed me to interact directly with faculty members, promote discussion, and exchange ideas about their teaching/research practices. I also had an opportunity to interact and learn from the students to foster relationships that would extend beyond the classroom walls. During my visit, I met with students outside of class, worked with them, and advised them on their ideas and development.

Before my visit, I talked with the faculty members about the availability of VR devices and an iPad to process Lidar scanning, a technique used to generate 3D objects from real environments. On my arrival, they bought the technology for the XR development. Students could see their work in VR headsets and scan objects to place them in VR or AR.

A good XR (AR or VR) experience engages as many of our senses as possible. The quality of the experience increases when it considers: a high sense of immersion that illustrates a natural way of interacting with the digitally created environments, an intense and clear idea of the goals, and it doesn’t impose significant efforts, so it becomes intuitive.

I tried to apply these considerations to my Fulbright experience in Portugal. During my stay, I drove a red Vespa and visited many towns from any direction in Lisbon. The idea of immersion while visiting places showed me the richness of Portugal and the variety of space, people, and local traditions. It was a clear and intense way of learning and adapting.

During my conversations with lisboetas and visitors about the month’s long fiestas de Santo Antonio, I became very intrigued about what it meant to be part of it. The night of the fiesta dos barrios Lisboa, I went with other Fulbright fellows to participate in the festivities. We walked across the city with a group of locals wanting to share their culture with us until the early hours the day after. I ended up visiting the same grilled sardine stand in Praça da Alegria and experiencing the music and energy of locals and visitors each time.

My Fulbright experience let me capture some of these experiences with pictures, videos, and a few in VR and AR as an opportunity to share a glimpse of Portugal with my students, collaborators, and friends.

Being a Fulbright scholar in Lisbon opened prospects to work with professors and to continue advising students at the IPL. Next time I visit Portugal, I’m confident I’ll feel at home.”