Virtual Management

M.B.A. students at the Rady School of Management will be the first in the world to test out a new immersive 3-D technology that makes it possible to step into a conference room in California and be face-to-face with a colleague in China.

The Rady School’s groundbreaking project, VirBELA (Virtual Business Education Leadership Assessment), creates a virtual world where students can design a life-like avatar and interact in real time, much like the popular online game, Second Life. In this unique virtual environment, students will collaborate in global teams, socialize, network, receive coaching and attend seminars.

Alex Howland, project manager of VirBELA, explains that the project’s inaugural program will be a cross-university M.B.A. business simulation competition. This will be the first to take place in the virtual world and unlike many traditional competitions, the teams will comprise M.B.A. students from multiple universities around the globe.

“The goal of this competition will be to develop global competencies by giving students experience working across time zones and with different cultures,” Howland says.

Beyond the business competition, the VirBELA design team is considering using the VirBELA virtual world to host conferences and connect students with job recruiters, among other projects.

Melinda Battenberg