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Carolina Cruz-Neira

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Carolina Cruz-Neira
Alma materUniversity of Illinois, Chicago
Universidad Metropolitana
OccupationUniversity of Central Florida
Known forComputer Engineering,
CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment
AwardsMember of the National Academy of Engineering, IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award 2007

Carolina Cruz-Neira is a Spanish-Venezuelan-American computer engineer, researcher, designer, educator, and a pioneer of virtual reality (VR). She is known for inventing the cave automatic virtual environment (CAVE). She previously worked at Iowa State University (ISU), University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette), University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock),[1] and she is currently an Agere Chair Professor at University of Central Florida (UCF).


Cruz-Neira graduated cum laude with a degree in systems engineering from the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, Venezuela in 1987.[2] She earned a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1991, and her PhD in 1995, working under computer graphics researcher Thomas DeFanti.[2]


Cave automatic virtual environment[edit]

The first CAVE was invented by Carolina Cruz-Neira, Daniel J. Sandin, and Thomas A. DeFanti in 1992.[3] For her PhD dissertation, Cruz-Neira designed and developed the CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment, its specifications, and implementation. She also designed and implemented the CAVELib software API, now a commercial product. She was the architect of the Open Source API VR Juggler, an open source virtual reality applications development framework.[4][5][6]

The CAVE is an immersive system that became the standard for rear projection-based virtual reality systems. The normal full system consists of projections screens along the front, side and floor axes, and a tracking system for the "user". Although they used the recursive acronym Cave Automatic Virtual Environment for the CAVE system, the name also refers to Plato's "Republic" and "The Allegory of the Cave" where he explored the concepts of reality and human perception.

There have been a couple offshoots of the CAVE technology, including ImmersaDesk, Infinity Wall and Oblong Industries' G-speak system.[citation needed] The ImmersaDesk is a semi-immersive system, resembling a drafting table, while the Infinity Wall is designed to cater to an entire room of people, such as a conference room. Extending this concept, G-speak supports gestural input from multiple-users and multiple-devices on an expandable array of monitors.[citation needed]


Video of Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira (2016), on how virtual reality will shape the world of tomorrow

Cruz-Neira was the Stanley Chair professor in Interdisciplinary Engineering, and a co-founder of the Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) at Iowa State University (ISU).[7][8] In 2002, Dr. Cruz-Neira co-founded and co-directed the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) graduate program at ISU.[7]

She later joined the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2005, and in 2006, was the first CEO and Chief Scientist of LITE (Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise), a Louisiana State initiative to support economic development in immersive technologies.[4] From 2009 to 2014 she was the W. Hansen Hall and Mary Officer Hall/BORSF Endowed Super Chair in Telecommunications in Computer Engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.[9]

In 2014, she was named an Arkansas Research Scholar by the Arkansas Research Alliance and moved to Little Rock to lead the Emerging Analytics Center (EAC) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.[10]

In 2019, Cruz-Neira joined the University of Central Florida, as an Agere Chair Professor in the Computer Science Department.[11][12]

Many of her former students are now doing leading work in VR at places such as Unity Labs, Intel, Microsoft Research, Google, DreamWorks, EA, Deere & Company, Boeing, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Argonne National Laboratory.[13]

Other work[edit]

In 2017, Cruz-Neira was included in episode 8 "the player", in a ten part, Dutch documentary series, The Mind of the Universe (2017) by Robbert Dijkgraaf and VPRO broadcast.[14]

In January, she was invited by Dell to participate in the “VR for Good” panel at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show to demonstrate how innovators are using virtual reality to make a positive impact on society.[15]

Since June 2019, she has served as Chief Editor of VR and Industry for Frontier's in Virtual Reality Journal.[citation needed]



  1. ^ "The emerging future in Arkansas of "life-size" aircraft visualization in High Definition 3D". www.arkansasedc.com. Arkansas Economic Development Commission. 2014-07-11. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Here's More on ARA Scholar Carolina Cruz-Neira of UALR". Innovate Arkansas. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  3. ^ Cruz-Neira, Carolina; Sandin, Daniel J.; DeFanti, Thomas A.; Kenyon, Robert V.; Hart, John C. (1992-06-01). "The CAVE: audio visual experience automatic virtual environment". Communications of the ACM. 35 (6): 64–72. doi:10.1145/129888.129892. ISSN 0001-0782. S2CID 19283900.
  4. ^ a b "Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira". ICIQ 2013. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Engineer envisions sci-fi as reality". arkansasonline.com. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Carolina Cruz-Neira Ph.D.: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Businessweek.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Cruz-Neira, Carolina (2007-03-01). "IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award 2007". 2007 IEEE Virtual Reality Conference. pp. xvii. doi:10.1109/VR.2007.352453. ISBN 978-1-4244-0905-1.
  8. ^ "Inside Iowa State". archive.inside.iastate.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  9. ^ "Presents the Spring 2014 EECS Seminar Series, Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira" (PDF). www.eecs.ucf.edu. 2014. Retrieved 2018-09-07.
  10. ^ "Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira". Iowa State University. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Acclaimed Computer Scientist and Virtual Reality Pioneer Joins UCF Faculty". University of Central Florida. 14 February 2020. Retrieved 2022-04-06.
  12. ^ "Springer named director of UA Little Rock Emerging Analytics Center". University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 30 June 2020. Retrieved 2022-04-06.
  13. ^ New Media Futures. University of Illinois Press. 2018. p. 85.
  14. ^ Swart, Rein (17 July 2017). "Allerhande, maar vooral literatuur: The mind of the universe (2017), tiendelige wetenschapsserie van Robbert Dijkgraaf". Allerhande, maar vooral literatuur. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  15. ^ "Cruz-Neira named new member of the National Academy of Engineering". News. 2018-02-08. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  16. ^ "iDMAa Award Recipients". idmaa.org. 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  17. ^ Harper, Jeremy (2018-01-27). "ARA Scholar Carolina Cruz-Neira wows at CES 2018". Arkansas Research Alliance. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  18. ^ Crecente, Brian (26 October 2016). "VR's Long, Weird History". Polygon. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  19. ^ "Women in STEM: 3 of VR's Greatest Female Innovators". University Herald. 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  20. ^ "National Academy of Engineering Elects 83 Members and 16 Foreign Members". NAE. Retrieved 8 February 2018.

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