Kevin T. Velez, Campus Carrier asst. arts & living editor
Although Berry boasts its strong historic roots through maintaining certain traditions like Mountain Day, the school that was originally founded to educate rural children is literally and physically expanding its use of innovative technology in fields of study and student life with its plan to expand HackBerry Lab, home to the creative technologies program. The addition includes an expanded metal-working shop that will increase the now limited availability and capacity of the workstation. HackBerry will also gain a larger woodshop and more workspaces for student projects through the expansion. The existing space in the original building is currently set to become an area for audio visual equipment that will include audio booths to enhance production capabilities.
The future addition for the lab is a main effect of the growing interest in Berry’s creative technologies program. Students like Lucas Steel, a senior majoring in creative technologies, measures how class sizes have notably changed over his time at Berry in certain creative technology courses.
“You have larger and larger class sizes,” Steel said. “In my 3D modeling class that I took this past semester, there were 25 kids in there, four years ago, that was the size of the entire major. We have grown a lot in the past four years, and I think we are just going to continue to grow.”
Steel is also the co-lab director for HackBerry and is hopeful that the addition will give students in the lab more opportunities to work on their projects and more space to work.
“We are going to continue to grow. The new space is going to afford us more opportunities in terms of having real student workspace and keeping the lab open longer,” Steel said.
With interest growing for Berry’s creative technologies major, Steel points to the uniqueness of the program as a contributing factor of the growth.
“There is no one who is really doing this new kind of blend between very good technical skills, as well as design thinking,” Steel said.
Steel credits the comprehensiveness of the major’s courses with making graduates of the program more appealing to employers. Steel graduates this year, and as he leaves Berry, he is not worried about the major’s future, because of the ingenuity of the freshman class.
“I think their passion is well placed and I think they have big ideas,” Steel said.
Kalista Shields is a junior also majoring in creative technologies. Shields entered Berry as a dual-degree engineering major but was convinced to change her major after touring HackBerry during an introductory creative technologies course. Shields was intrigued with the ongoing projects in the lab and the ability to learn different skills like welding and model-printing.
“I wanted to be an engineer without the math, and it was giving me the opportunity to build things without being bogged down in theory,” Shields said.
Shields was encouraged to explore creating her own business based on her lamp creations, that are inspired by her own design. After deciding to pursue the idea, Shields began training on the equipment in the lab that was needed to make her products. Shields thinks that part of the purpose of creative technologies is to not limit people in creating new ideas or products and include other students in creating their personal projects or products to sell.
“The purpose of creative technologies is to not be limited by anything but your imagination,” Shields said.
As the culture both within the lab and among other students majoring in creative technologies develops, Shields says at the core of that culture is creativity and inclusion. Despite the lab housing many creative technologies courses, the equipment and resources within the lab are available to all students. Students can enter the lab during lab hours in the week and work with lab assistants in learning to use the equipment.
The work and dedication of the upperclassmen to develop a strong culture and atmosphere in the lab has not gone unnoticed by students like Ronan Schurig, a freshman studying creative technologies. Schurig describes the atmosphere at the lab as a friendly space with freedom to pursue projects without extreme oversight. With the major still being a close-knit community, Schurig finds the professors and upperclassmen both sociable and approachable. The hands-on approach involved with the lab and courses is what Schurig finds most appealing about the major.
“I have always favored doing the work, rather than writing or talking about it,” Schurig said.
Despite being a part of the program for a shorter amount of time than the upperclassmen, Schurig has found the major to be thrilling and is excited to further his involvement.
“It is a great major with many fun and interesting classes that are not even required,” Schurig said.
With the expansion of the lab set to begin this summer, students visiting HackBerry or planning to take a creative technology course , may see the changes this fall semester.