(story by Tim Gallagher)
As the senior track and field season for Buena Vista University student-athlete Greg Tystahl approached its final few figurative meters, the computer science major ran academic concerns through his mind.
Namely, he had to get an electrical circuit to enact a coding series that would result in movement for his Gateway Glove, a virtual-reality glove he constructed using muscle wire to simulate the haptic feedback of real objects in a user’s hand when grabbing virtual objects. Tystahl designed and demonstrated the Gateway Glove for his capstone project in the BVU Honors Institute.
The apparatus worked much to the delight of the crowd, and to the creator.
“I’m always glad when it works,” Tystahl said with a smile. “It’s supposed to work that way.”
Much has worked for the senior from Iowa Falls, who decided to attend BVU four years ago after experiencing the University’s Virtual Reality Lab.
“I saw the VR lab and it blew my mind,” Tystahl remembers. “That experience convinced me to attend BVU. It’s great to have a site like this where we can program, trouble-shoot, and create, often with our professors at our side.”
Dr. Shawn Stone, BVU Professor of Physics and Computer Science, observed the presentation and picked up on Tystahl’s comments regarding the dangers of currents in the prototype, humorously saying, “In Greg’s defense, any prototype where an engineer or physicist is involved will most likely harm you.”
“Greg’s Honors project was an ambitious choice for an undergrad,” says Dr. Jason Shepherd, BVU Professor of Computer Science. “There are a lot of potential points of failure in projects that involve both hardware and software. This is even more true when it involves cutting-edge technology. The resulting prototype was a testament to Greg’s determination and skill as a computer scientist. We’re very proud of him.”
Tystahl’s experiences in the classroom led him to a unique internship in 2021 as he spent the summer serving in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at Florida Atlantic University. The fellowship came with a $5,000 stipend, additional meal allowance, and free housing.
Fresh off setting a BVU track and field record in the 5,000 meters (15:14.35), the experience in Florida allowed him to train for his senior season in conditions not always seen in Iowa: heat and humidity at sea level.
Once back on campus, Tystahl continued his work in the classroom and on the track. He also continued his campus roles in various activities. He served as President for BVU’s Association for Computing Machinery. He participated in BVU’s capture-the-flag contest for those learning about computer hacking. He created an internship to learn about cryptography with Dr. Gail Hartsock, BVU Associate Professor of Mathematics. He also had fun as part of BVU’s popular Humans vs. Zombies competitions.
Following graduation and his final American Rivers Conference track and field meet, Tystahl will pack his belongings—maybe his Gateway Glove, even—and again head for the East Coast, as he’s been accepted into the Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University, where he will study cybersecurity.