Luis Mesias Flores

A head shot of Luis Mesias Flores

When Luis Mesias Flores attended a job fair during his first year at Universidad Del Valle de Guatemala, he noticed many students flocked to the Coca-Cola table. When he asked why, he was told that monitoring the quality of the beverages was one of the best opportunities available.

Not wanting that for himself, Luis left his native Guatemala to come to the United States for college. He spent two years at Hillsborough Community College in Florida before coming to Case Western Reserve University. After earning his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at CWRU, he began his Ph.D. studies. Recently, he was selected by the Cleveland FES Center to give one of their Oct. 3 First Tuesday seminars.

Luis’s presentation, Development of a VR Assessment and Training Platform for Convergence Insufficiency, focuses on the work he and his advisor, Assistant Professor Michael Fu, have been doing with Dr. Mark Walker at the Cleveland Veteran Affairs Hospital. Luis has been using virtual reality tools in the lab to assess and treat different vestibular ocular symptoms.

“I think (my presentation) was well received and people were interested in the topic,” Luis said of the “engaging” question and answer session that followed his presentation. He was praised by an attendee for “making the most out of the connections CWRU has with the nearby hospitals like the VA and Metro.”

Luis is responsible for creating virtual reality applications that show stimuli to VA patients. The patients watch how objects move. Since many of these patients suffer from traumatic brain injuries, they usually have visual symptoms such as having trouble reading or being unable to work with something close to their face. The VR applications help diagnose, assess, and treat their conditions.

Though Luis usually does virtual reality development work, he recently started going to the clinic and seeing how therapists work with the patients close up. He had the opportunity to ask therapists about his virtual reality app in development, then did research on the patients’ symptoms and learned what’s considered normal and abnormal.

Luis enjoyed being at the forefront, seeing the eye tracking, and checking that the system was producing the desired results. “This has been a fun project, normally you design a project to do just what instructions say, but this project constantly grows and diversifies,” he said. He credited this work with helping him develop skills to organize code and keep a live repository.

Luis has been designing virtual reality applications since 2017. Having taken programming and electrical engineering courses in his home country and in community college, he wondered what could be done with virtual reality besides gaming. As a student in Fu's lab, he created simulations for Associate Professor Kathryn Daltorio's crab-inspired robots to use a controller attached to their hand that moves at the same rate as robots on screens. He then went on to serve as a TA for the same course, which is offered to both undergraduate and graduate students. After Luis graduates from CWRU in 2025, he hopes to work in the industry sector, where one of his main goals is to create a haptic tool that can replace vibrational controllers. He also would like to see virtual reality used in classrooms as a learning tool, particularly in lab components of courses, which he described as "priceless."