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Who We Are

The Alternate Reality Initiative (ARI) is a student organization at the University of Michigan centered around virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technology. After seeing a lack of a centralized community, we created ARI to provide a hub and community for students interested in XR technology.


Through weekly meetings, ARI is fostering the next generation of XR innovators by hosting development workshops, discussing industry news, and connecting students to opportunities in the greater XR ecosystem.


Founded in January 2018, ARI has received recognition and generous support from other University of Michigan organizations. In April 2018, ARI received a $5,000 optiMize project grant and was accepted into the competitive Barger Leadership Institute Capstone program. In April 2019, ARI hosted the first ever XR Midwest Conference.


Grassroots Student Initiative Brings XR to The Midwest: "The future of XR technology is now in the hands of the young and ambitious."

-Gabriel Moss April 23, 2019

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Capstone 2018 - Student Voices: Alternate Reality Initiative (ARI)
-Barger Leadership Institute February 4th, 2019

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Introducing our Sixth Fellows Cohort! "A student organization exploring the advancing fields of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality."
-Optimize March 6th, 2018

Our Team 


Emilee Meng

Emilee is a senior studying Computer Science and believes XR technology further blends the world and technology as one to increase interactivity, productivity, and connections between people. Initially fascinated by the Google cardboard, she has been enamored with the compelling narrative’s XR technology produces. With a focus on application design and a strong enthusiasm for XR, she hopes to use XR to improve learning and enrich people’s lives. 


Martha Miracky

Martha is a senior studying Computer Science in the College of Engineering with an interest in computer vision and artificial intelligence. She was first introduced to VR when she was able to try Oculus' Tuscany demo in 2014 and has remained interested in XR ever since. Her interests in XR are in computer vision applications such as gesture recognition and spatial mapping


Christabella Palumbi
Logistics Lead

Christabella Palumbi is a sophomore studying computer science in the College of Engineering. She has been interested in XR since middle school, and the drive to develop her own VR games is what encouraged her to first try out the Unity game engine. The applications of XR that most intrigue Christabella are multiplayer games (including asynchronous multiplayer) and experiences that utilize 3D space to introduce elements that would not be possible on a traditional 2D screen.


Nicole Choi
Art Lead

Nicole is a senior double majoring in computer science in the College of Engineering and art & design at the Stamps School of Art and Design. Her love for programming and animation and her first VR experience in 2015 led to her fascination with XR, where she is interested in creating immersive virtual experiences. With her research interests in Machine Intelligence and XR, she hopes to build immersive XR experiences with virtual AI figures as an education tool for understanding different perspectives and thus promoting a society of empathy and care.

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Michael Nebeling

Faculty Advisor

Michael Nebeling is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information where he leads the Information Interaction Lab. His lab works in the area of human-computer interaction, investigating new techniques, tools, and technologies that enable users to interact with information in more natural and powerful ways, and also make it easier for designers to create more usable and effective interfaces. His current research focuses on empowering non-technical designers to create AR/VR experiences with little to no background in 3D animation, modeling, and programming.

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