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Get in the Game in QCC’s Fab Lab

October, 2019
  • Game-minded students work with QCC's Fab Lab instructors to create models of characters, scenery and props for their games.
    Game-minded students work with QCC's Fab Lab instructors to create models of characters, scenery and props for their games
  • Students brainstorm in the Fab Lab with instructor Bryan DeConte (blue shirt).
    Students brainstorm in the Fab Lab with instructor Bryan DeConte (blue shirt).
  • Instructor Bryan DeConte works with a student on a gaming character.
    Instructor Bryan DeConte works with a student on a gaming character.
  • 3D creations for gaming
    3D creations for gaming

If you walk into the Fab Lab in the QuEST Center on most Tuesday afternoons, more often than not you will find a dedicated group of gamers and anime fans hard at work, energized by their passion for play. On Thursday afternoons you most likely will find the college’s theater troupe buzzing with enthusiasm, while they design and create props, sets, and signage for their upcoming productions.

Into its fourth year of operation, QCC’s Fab Lab has become a magnet for students, faculty and staff who have a passion for creating and making things. The Fab Lab management team of Nick Bold and Bryan DeConte are excited that lab use has expanded, with members of the college community pursuing their personal interests in the maker space. Noting that both clubs and individuals have been taking advantage of the lab’s resources, Mr. Bold cited numerous examples of projects done in the lab.

Projects included QCC’s cheerleaders learning to use the digital embroidery machine to personalize their uniforms; budding staff entrepreneurs who created tee shirt designs, then printed and affixed them to shirts, as well as a QCC student who decorated tote bags using environmental awareness designs drawn by children. A group of gamers have gone a step further, using the Fab Lab as a hub not only for making, repairing and finishing game pieces, character models and costumes but also playing a game using those items each week.

Mr. DeConte explained that as game-minded students started working on individual projects and were exchanging ideas in the lab, he and Mr. Bold decided to offer a weekly workshop focused on gaming and role-playing on Tuesday afternoons from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. During the workshop, students are coached in using 3D printers to create models of characters, scenery and props of varying sizes; painting and put the finishing touches on models; making props for their models, and creating costumes and props for humans who role play characters. Whether working at tables or on equipment, these animated gamers, while engrossed in their work, are busy helping one another and sharing ideas on how to make all of their models better.

An avid gamer himself, Mr. DeConte proposed conducting weekly game playing sessions following the workshop right in the Fab Lab, and the response from students was an overwhelming “Yes!"

Christian Bacelis is a dedicated gamer who is majoring in Computer Systems Engineering Cybersecurity at QCC. He has taken on the role as game leader. Mr. Bacelis said he references different Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) guide books in planning a story and setting the background for games.

"The games typically begin by 5:00 p.m. and end a few hours later, when everyone feels the time is right. If people are enjoying a game, it may carry over to the next week; if not, a new game may be started. Together we decide what is working well and what we want to do differently," he said.

“Everyone is very flexible and supportive of each other. I tend to be on the quiet side, but I am very comfortable here. I really enjoy working and playing with this group,” added Robert O’Shea, a QCC student who is majoring in Electronics Engineering (Mechatronics option). 

Having the support of Mr. Bold and Mr. DeConte in the Fab Lab has helped the group form, hone and advance their skills, noted Engineering major Justin Balanca-Hawkes, adding that both staff members are “very open to sharing their knowledge and their creativity gives us inspiration”.

In a different spin on gaming, Computer Science major Vincent Strzelecki pursued his interest in electronic games in the Fab Lab by building an arcade housing, researching, designing and installing the electronic systems needed to run a game and then downloading electronic game code on it. Mr. Strzelecki explained that “there is a lot of open source coding for electronic games available online”, and said he plans to try loading a variety of games into the system he built.

The Fab Lab offers workshops on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Wednesday focuses on the building of Fab Lab skills. Thursday afternoons are geared towards building props and sets for QCC’s theater troupe, while Tuesday afternoon workshops are dedicated to Gaming & Role Playing.  Workshops are open to everyone and no specific skills or knowledge is required, just an interest in learning and some curiosity are recommended. The Fab Lab also offers open hours Monday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. 

Visit QCC's Fab Lab to learn more. 

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