Step Into Something New

  By Kes Speelman

What word would you use to describe the Emergent Media Center (EMC)?  I asked this question to every new student employee when starting each interview.  This is my first time working at the EMC, and I wanted to really gain a consensus of what is so special about this “center of excellence.” Is it the people? Is it the connections to bigger companies through alumni? Is it the social impact of many of their projects? 

To start the summer, I am putting together a series of interviews of students new to the EMC in order to gain a better understanding about what the EMC is and the kind of projects students are working on. I want to share some of the “new” to the EMC student experiences so far.

The EMC has been known as a place of innovation and inspiration among its employees and clients. Students are able to practice their newly learned skills from classes in the EMC studio for real life projects. This experience allows students to gain valuable insight on the process of working on client-based projects in their various career fields.

I want to first start this series by focusing on the newest members of the BREAKAWAY Mobile Team, the Olfactory team, and the MakerLab. These three projects are long-standing projects that have been in the works for multiple semesters with many different students.

The summer students for the BREAKAWAY project, are creating a mobile version of BREAKAWAY, a video game that uses soccer to help change perspectives and encourage gender equity around the world to inspire positive social change. The Olfactory Virtual Reality (VR) team is experimenting in interactions and immersive environments and are working to create a demonstration for the annual Bookstock Literary Festival in Woodstock, VT.  In the Champlain College MakerLab there are several projects being worked on and workshops for the summer are being planned, that will allow students, staff and faculty an opportunity to experiment with many tools and machinery like the laser cutter and the 3D printer.

 Now that the background is covered, let’s dive in!

BREAKAWAY Mobile Team:

Brian Baron, Class of 2018
Advanced Programmer

Q:  What did you expect when you started working for the EMC this summer?
A: “I expected to have a lot of strict deadlines and a lot of working all the time with a team who wants to work for a cause – the EMC does a lot of stressing about doing work for social change.”

Q: What are some differences in your experience these past two weeks compared to you expectations?
A: “It’s been more laid back than I expected, which I’m grateful for because we’re still able to get a lot of work done, but I don’t feel pressured to meet deadlines, all the time, so it [the project] grows into a much more cohesive project.”

Q: What do you like about the EMC?
A:  “I think the EMC is a really great place to get development experience, while also affecting social change. All the projects we have right now, [along with] BREAKAWAY, are going to be impactful when they are released and complete. “

Olfactory Team:

Yvonne Lee, Class of 2018
3D Artist

Q: How are your expectations different from your experience?
A: “I guess I was more expecting to be working with more people that I didn’t know and not people that I do know because my entire team [Olfactory] that I work with right now are friends so I knew them already. When we started off, I was under the impression that it was like a school project, in a way like all the production classes for video game majors. But there are so many more meetings as the work progresses with so many official people, like adults, I was expecting that, but it’s been good.”

Q: Are the experienced staff members intimidating to work with, or are they more helpful and understanding?
A:  “They’re not like intimidating at all, but they’re surprisingly friendly. I’m like a little bit scared when they come over to talk to me [but] it’s always about the project anyways so it’s fine. They’re super friendly and I haven’t had an issue being intimidated by them.”

Q: What do you hope to accomplish while working here this summer?
A: “It would be nice, because I do art, to have a portfolio piece in the end, but it’s nice to know people. And I hope no one hates me by the end, like I’m just going with the flow and hope I’m doing things right.”


Christian Lefebvre , Class of 2018
MakerLab Tech

Q: How were your expectations met or disproven since you started working here?
A: “Tyler [my supervisor] kind of laid things out kind of clearly. He told me we had three objectives: Remodeling the space, making workshops to try to get faculty from Champlain College to come here and utilize that in their classes, and also ChampBot if people wanted to do that. I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as free-flowing of a place, ‘cause I’ve worked in a lot of food service and things like that. [So I’m used to] a manager telling you to do this and you do it but this is more like ‘this has to be done so do it and this is when it needs to be done by’.”

Q: Was there a learning curve since starting here?
A:  “It was a little intimidating at first, especially on Fridays when I’m [in the MakerLab] by myself, but I think I’m going to be all right here. Especially since the more time I spend here, the more I get the flow of things and that’s really the hardest part. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but I came down here a lot the past few years, to just work on independent projects, so I kind of knew what was here and stuff of that nature. But there are still a lot of tools I am learning how to use, like I just recently learned how to solder.”

Q: What has been your favorite part of working in the MakerLab?
A: “I guess I am growing to really like the independent nature of the MakerLab. It’s great to be able to see a task that we have to do be like ‘Alright, this is what we have to do and I think I can get it done in this amount of time.’ It’s both intimidating and rewarding.”

Remember the first question I asked? The students came up with three answers: collaboration, openness and experiential learning. Read how these ideas connect even further with student in Part 2 of this series for when we interview the students who are working with the Stern Center for Language and Learning.