Incoming Students Experience the First-Ever Virtual 3D Tour

May 24, 2024 • By The UCI Paul Merage School of Business

On April 29, The UCI Paul Merage School of Business in partnership with Undergraduate Admissions and Enrollment Management team hosted its first-ever virtual 3D pilot for admitted undergraduate students. Using Engage’s extended-reality (XR) platform, staff created an immersive experience for attendees, allowing them to explore the business school’s facilities from anywhere in the world.

“Part of our mission is to develop leaders for a digitally driven world, so we work to model that ourselves with pioneering experiences like this,” said Justin De Toro, Academic Advisor for Undergraduate Programs.

The event served as an example of the Merage School’s technical capabilities while also giving incoming students a chance to develop a sense of what campus life is like.

“What you see in this virtual space is really how our auditorium looks. As we walk around the rest of the business school, you’ll see digitally what our facilities are actually like,” said De Toro. “We hope it makes this big world we live in feel a little bit smaller so you can really see what makes this place special.”

As attendees used virtual portals to walk from room to room, faculty and staff offered insights into why Merage is an in-demand and highly ranked business school. Digital billboards posted throughout the tour highlighted measures of excellence, like the fact that the undergraduate business program is ranked 29th among all programs in the U.S. (Poets and Quants Undergraduate ranking).

“We want to take the lead in creating the next generation of leaders who will sit comfortably at the intersection of technology, business, and entrepreneurship,” said Ian Williamson, Dean of The UCI Paul Merage School of Business. “We are honored that you would consider joining our community where we like to experiment and try new things like this, not being afraid to fail and learn from it.”

The pilot event kicked off in the auditorium, where De Toro led attendees to the Porter Room. Here, Professor Wilk presented a brief overview of the "Into the Metaverse" course. Following this, in the lobby, Maria Grandone, Director of Undergraduate Programs, alongside Justin Javier, Associate Director, highlighted the various programs and services through visual student success stories, including activities and events. The tour concluded in the courtyard, where Associate Dean Kevin Bradford discussed the extensive resources and opportunities available to business school students. Some of those included the career center, First-Gen Celebration, Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the international residential program.

In the courtyard, attendees could step into virtual portals that showed them photos of other parts of campus beyond the business school—places like Aldrich Park, the Anteater Recreation Center, and a few dorm rooms.

Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs Kevin Bradford then spoke to the crowd about why admitted students should choose UCI in general and Merage specifically.

“We’re only 13 years old, but we’re already a top 30 business school in the country,” said Bradford. “About 122,000 students apply to UCI, but the school only takes about 8,000. About 16,000 apply to the business school, and we only take 375 to 425. This means our students are among a select group of people who come from all over and have different backgrounds, people who know how to solve problems and share diverse perspectives.”

Bradford also highlighted the safety of the campus and the city of Irvine, the six different areas of study for undergraduates, and the Bridge to Success course that helps incoming students get up to speed and learn how to get the most out of their time at UCI.

“I hope you can see the emphasis we place on student success and student wellbeing,” said Bradford. “We truly walk the talk when it comes to innovation, research, teaching, and service. I believe that what makes UCI distinctive is that everyone on campus is trying to make it better for each other.”

The virtual pilot of the Merage School utilized cutting-edge digital avatars to bring incoming UCI students together, showcasing the school's resources, faculty, and community in an engaging, new way. This innovative approach to the work required the combined brilliance and dedicated teamwork of key contributors.

Office of the Vice Chancellor, Data and Information Technology:

  • Keri Albers, Digital Innovation Project Manager (technical lead)

Office of Enrollment Management:

  • Tony Hwang, Executive Director (project lead)
  • Darren S Endo, Director of Administration
  • David Naimie, Director of External Relations
  • Yessica Ornelas, Student Fellow
  • Victor Hernandez Barajas, Student Fellow

Office of Undergraduate Admissions:

  • Bryan Jue, Senior Director of Outreach and Communications
  • Huma A. Madinawala, Director of First Year Outreach


This successful collaboration highlights the strength and innovative spirit of our partnerships, setting a shining example of what we can achieve together in the realm of virtual reality. This pioneering approach highlights Merage's commitment to leveraging technology to connect and inspire the next generation of leaders.