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August 19, 2017

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Stardust is next stop in virtual tour of Old Vegas

Virtual Las Vegas Sands

An original photograph of the Sands bus. Launch slideshow »

In the fall, three masters-level students from an Italian university teamed up with UNLV’s entertainment engineering and design program to create a 3-D virtual Sands hotel and casino. The interactive world they created draws on UNLV’s extensive gaming archives to immerse viewers in Las Vegas’ glittery past — from vintage footage of the Rat Pack to oral histories given by former Sands workers.

Now, that project by UNLV and the Politecnico di Torino has expanded to include more imploded landmarks.

Three more Italian students traveled to UNLV this spring to enlarge the project to include the Stardust. It includes a Flash presentation of how the exterior of the hotel changed between the opening in 1955 and its implosion in 2007.

Throughout the process, UNLV undergraduates have contributed historical research, getting much-needed experience in archival research.

The virtual Sands was expected to be available on the Internet by this summer but the crew hit a few snags. The researchers have been creating an online platform at the same time they are building a virtual world using video game technology, which has taken longer than expected.

The researchers are wrapping up a prototype and expect to go online this fall.

“That’s been more difficult than we thought it would be,” said Dan Cook, the UNLV professor coordinating the program. “We’re not quite where we thought we’d be, but we’re moving forward.”

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Las Vegas-based Sting Surveillance, which discovered how aged UNLV’s surveillance equipment is while installing cameras in a new parking garage, has donated and is installing for free more than $125,000 worth of updated equipment.

The 20-year-old camera system operates at a snail’s pace in feeding video to the police department. The old system hogs much-needed bandwidth on the university’s communications network. Every time new cameras are added to the surveillance network, the university has to pay thousands of dollars extra for retrofitting.

Sting’s donated system is expected to work more efficiently, cost less to maintain, free up bandwidth and allow the campus to afford more security cameras.

It has already allowed the university to complete security camera installation at a new building that had been postponed because of cost.

“It’s a pleasant surprise to hear a subcontractor not only wants to do the job on this project, but then wants to help us out on a campuswide basis,” said Gerry Bomotti, UNLV vice president for finance and business. “We’re very appreciative of them thinking about UNLV.”

•••

Twenty UNLV students will receive $2,000 scholarships from the Wells Fargo Bank Nevada First-Generation Scholarship program.

The students are required to complete 40 hours of community service on top of their normal school obligations in order to keep the scholarships.

The scholarship is meant to assist first-generation low- and moderate-income college students.

The 2009-10 academic year scholarship recipients are Sara Aguilar, Rocio Ortiz, Lizbeth Arias, Celinda Pena, Jeneffer Avalos, Desiree Provencer, Zaida Chaidez, Soraya Silverman, Caroline Chang, Shanice Stevens, Adriana Corado, Victoria Smith, Nydia Diaz, Lucila Tapia, Cecilia Equihua, Diana Washington, Nydia Diaz, Janell Witherspoon, Jesus Nanci and Beelee Young.

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