ARiA Summit 2018

Christopher Fridlington ’19 Explores Augmented Reality at ARiA Summit

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When Christopher Fridlington ’19 was offered an internship with the Architectural Firm, Arrowstreet, over the summer, he had no idea his connection would lead him to attend the ARiA (Augmented Reality in Action) Summit at MIT’s Media Lab in January 2018, as one of only two high school students among hundreds of industry professionals.

Chris Fridlington '19 was one of two high-school students to attend the ARiA Summit at MIT in January 2018.
Christopher Fridlington ’19 was one of two high-school students to attend the ARiA Summit at MIT in January 2018.

What is ARiA?

What is ARiA, many of us ask? ARiA is an annual conference about ideas, namely Augmented Reality, where thought leaders in Augmented Reality development, digital, electronic and human integration come together to share ideas.

Christopher arrived at New Hampton in 9th grade a self-taught coder, who had learned how to develop iOS applications. In his past two years as a student, Christopher took advantage of courses in Graphic Design, Animation, and CAD, further developing his understanding of code, user interface, and computer programming.

Chris participated in a virtual class on Animation taught in partnership with the Walt Disney Family Museum at New Hampton.
Christopher participated in a virtual class on Animation taught in partnership with the Walt Disney Family Museum at New Hampton.

Making Connections

As Christopher writes “All of these skills converged during the week of my internship with Arrowstreet. I worked on a concept map of a building, site elevations, and did a study for them on how they are using their office space. Most importantly, however, I met with their team developing the firm’s VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) experiences.”

A full IB student, Literati member and active citizen on campus, Christopher plugs away at his coding and developing passion whenever he finds a free moment. The enthusiasm and commitment he exhibited during his summer internship led him to receive an invitation from his contacts at Arrowstreet to attend the ARiA conference last month. It would help him understand how the latest technologies they are exploring will be incorporated into our lives.

At the ARiA Summit

Pattie Maes, professor at MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group was a memorable speaker for Chris. “She focused on the social implications rather than just the technical details. This made her talk especially compelling and made AR’s effect on society more tangible.”

The audience at the ARiA Summit enjoyed listening to creative ideas from industry leaders.
The audience at the ARiA Summit enjoyed listening to creative ideas from industry leaders.

Another favorite for Christopher was John Fan, of Kopin Corporation. As Christopher noted, “He talked about the adoption curve for wearable technology and what needs to happen in order to motivate consumers.” Arrowstreet also presented their thesis on how AR will impact architecture at the conference. For Christopher, he had the opportunity to see some of the ideas he had helped with presented to the public as well as learn about future opportunities for the company. In addition to attending presentations, Christopher loved seeing all of the AR and VR demos shared during conference breaks.

The ARiA conference also featured demos and ideas from a number of leading companies and organizations.
The ARiA conference also featured demos and ideas from a number of leading companies and organizations.

Following a Passion

What’s next for a student who has been lucky enough to experience the cutting edge of our digital world in a professional setting? “The conference was a great experience. Not only did I leave with technical knowledge, such as how glass is being manufactured for creating AR displays, but I now have a better understanding of how technology impacts our daily lives.”

Whether he applies these lessons-learned in his classes at New Hampton School, or continues to pursue internship opportunities outside of the classroom, there’s no doubt that Christopher will pursue his passion and lead himself and his peers to new understandings as developer.

Finding authentic learning opportunities is one of the best ways for students to truly comprehend and advance new material and Christopher has set a wonderful example for his peers.

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