April 5: Virtual reality entrepreneurship journey focus of Lanning Lecture

By Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

sankar and uma jayaram WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Sankar, Uma Jayaram (l-r)

PULLMAN, Wash. – Two former Washington State University professors will describe their journey to becoming Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as part of the Lanning Distinguished Lecture.

Sankar and Uma Jayaram will speak on “Bringing VR Experiences to the World: A Journey from WSU to Silicon Valley” at 3:10 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in Goertzen 21. A reception will follow.

The technology the Jayarams developed was recently deployed for the first virtual reality experience of the Winter Olympics and was streamed to 10 rights holders worldwide.

Sankar Jayaram is the chief technology officer at Intel Sports, driving the digitization and personalization of sports for fans through immersive technologies. Through his influential work in virtual reality over the past 25 years, he has brought VR to a wide spectrum of domains – from live events in sports and concerts to VR for engineering applications and training.

Sankar saw the potential of VR well before the recent rise in interest in the field. He has brought to market highly innovative solutions and products combining virtual reality, immersive environments, powerful user controllable media experiences, and social networks.

The work done by his team in virtual assembly and virtual prototyping in the 1990s is seminal and continues to be widely referenced by groups around the world. He has published and lectured extensively in the field of virtual reality.

Along with Uma Jayaram, he co-founded several companies including VOKE (acquired by Intel in 2016), Integrated Engineering Solutions, a company providing customized engineering software solutions. and Translation Technologies, a company that provides feature-based translations between CAD systems. He was also a professor at WSU and co-founded the WSU Virtual Reality Laboratory in 1994.

Uma Jayaram is the managing director of engineering for Intel True VR, a live-event virtual reality platform that is part of Intel Sports.

Uma is globally recognized for her research in virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and engineering applications and has published and lectured extensively. She was an associate professor and associate director of WSU’s Virtual Reality Lab.

One of the first women to receive an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Kharagpur, Uma is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, recognized for her contributions to virtual reality and engineering. She also received a lifetime achievement award from the International Society of Agile Manufacturing.

The Lanning Distinguished Lecture was established by the WSU Foundation to educate engineering students on such topics as ethics, integrity in business, relating to others, professional responsibility, communication, self-development and/or leadership. The lectureship is named for Frances Lanning Dillon, the late wife of civil engineering alumnus Jack Dillon, ’41.



  • Tina Hilding, communications director, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, (509) 335-5095, thilding@wsu.edu

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