A couple of times a day, a few of the burgeoning number of Purdue University Fort Wayne esports players will wonder what’s going on next door and stick their heads inside out of curiosity.
What they find is worth checking out.
After starting renovations during the spring semester, work is now virtually complete on the IT Services’ TechHub, which is located on the second floor of Walb Student Union, Room 220. A significant investment in hardware and resources was spent on renovations and purchasing equipment. The new TechHub name is an umbrella for the existing Mastodon Makerlab, PFW Esports, and the newly revitalized Studio M. An open house will be held Nov. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The biggest differences are in two areas. Studio M is now a full-service television studio where students can record class projects, produce videos, or even create a television show of their own. There are also computer resources and editing equipment available.
“I feel like any project they bring to me, we can probably figure it out,” said Shane Scherschel, TechHub coordinator. “I just want [students] to come check it out. I’d even like some kids to start a show just for fun.”
The lab improvements are from carpeting to ceiling, including professional lighting, window shades, sound dampeners, and backdrops to provide a more modern, efficient, and easier-to-use work area.
Students can also check out equipment such as still and video cameras, lenses, audio recorders, tripods, or desk and lav microphones. It’s also a place where students can learn how to use the technology and related tools such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Apple Pro Apps, Black Magic Design, or Microsoft 365 products. There are nine student employees to help Scherschel explain and demonstrate what’s available.
“We had more of a focus on cameras, media, and production, but we don’t want to lose the services, either,” said Brian Spaulding, associate director of technology workspace for Information Technology Services. “If someone is working on a project for any school and doesn’t know quite how to get your homework done on a media project, swing by or shoot Shane an email.”
Though it continues to grow exponentially in usage, the esports arena received the fewest changes, but may benefit the most from the improvements in the other areas. The esports gaming lab is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for all students, faculty, and staff, and then the PFW Esports competitive team takes over for the evenings. The renovations in Studio M allow the esports streaming broadcasters to use professional equipment and a backdrop.
“Before, we were in a very tiny room, and now I have this whole room where I can’t hear anything when I have the door shut,” said Colton Heffelfinger, who streams the PFW teams. “We now have this giant TV screen compared to my computer screen, and with these headsets, it’s 10 times easier to hear myself talk. This room has been very, very nice.”
Another nice new option is a smart locker located outside the TechHub hallway where students can pick up their 3D printing after normal business hours as part of the expanded ordering process.
New equipment is on order for the 3D printing done in the Mastodon Makerlab, which offers another service for the first time. At the suggestion of John Kaufeld, visiting instructor in organizational leadership, students can donate their leftover PaperCut fees for the lab to create toys for donation to the local Toys for Tots.
“Say somebody has $10 left in their account, they can either let it drift away or they can donate it to this and we can build a toy for a kid,” Spaulding said.