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Virtual Technology and Design Professor Involved in Amazon-Funded Project to Design Visual World, Increase Number of Women in Engineering

September 13, 2019

Jean-Marc Gauthier, associate professor in the College of Art and Architecture's Virtual Technology and Design Program, is part of a team recently awarded a grant from multinational tech giant Amazon to develop a virtual world that encourages women to pursue traditionally male-dominated engineering fields.

The grant was awarded by Amazon Catalyst, a program launched by in partnership with the University of Washington and Washington State University (WSU), to fund innovative projects at universities that make positive impacts on the world. WSU Sociology Professor and Principal Investigator Julie Kmec was awarded the grant and formed "Team Cross-Cultural Optics," which includes Gauthier, along with additional faculty and students from WSU, Purdue University and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Gauthier will help develop a virtual world that allows U.S.-based female engineers to "visualize social interactions" and experience the workplace environments of countries with higher levels of women in engineering, he said. The visual world will include narratives from engineers across the globe so women can learn from their experiences and work toward solving the gender gap in the engineering industry.

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The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at