Carolina Cruz-Neira

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Carolina Cruz-Neira
Carolina Cruz-Neira
Alma materUniversity of Illinois, Chicago
Universidad Metropolitana
OccupationUniversity of Arkansas at Little Rock,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Iowa State University
Known forComputer Engineering,
CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment
AwardsIEEE Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award[1]

Carolina Cruz-Neira is a Spanish-Venezuelan-American computer engineer, researcher, designer, educator, and a pioneer of virtual reality (VR) research and technology. She is known for inventing the CAVE automatic virtual environment. She previously worked at Iowa State University (ISU), University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is currently the director of the Emerging Analytics Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.[2]


Carolina Cruz-Neira graduated cum laude with a degree in systems engineering from the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, Venezuela in 1987. 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.


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.

Since then there have been a couple offshoots of the CAVE technology, including ImmersaDesk, Infinity Wall and Oblong Industries' G-speak system. 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 and expandable array of monitors.


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

Dr. 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 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 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.[10]


In 2007, she was awarded the IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award, in recognition of the development of the CAVE.[7] International Digital Media and Arts Association (iDMMa) awarded her the Distinguished Career Award in 2009.[11]

Polygon website's Top 25 VR Innovators award[12] and named by University Herald as one of the three greatest female innovators in virtual reality.[13]

In February 2018 Dr. Cruz-Neira was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.[14]


  1. ^ "Colloquium Speaker: Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira". Johns Hopkins University. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  2. ^ C, Lisa. "The emerging future in Arkansas of "life-size" aircraft visualization in High Definition 3D". Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  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.
  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". Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Carolina Cruz-Neira Ph.D.: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Cruz-Neira, Carolina (2007-03-01). "IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award 2007". doi:10.1109/VR.2007.352453.
  8. ^ "Inside Iowa State". Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  9. ^ "Presents the Spring 2014 EECS Seminar Series, Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira" (PDF). 2014. Retrieved 2018-09-07.
  10. ^ "Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira". Iowa State University. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  11. ^ "iDMAa Award Recipients". 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  12. ^ Crecente, Brian (26 October 2016). "VR's Long, Weird History". Polygon. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Women in STEM: 3 of VR's Greatest Female Innovators". University Herald. 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  14. ^ "National Academy of Engineering Elects 83 Members and 16 Foreign Members". NAE. Retrieved 8 February 2018.