On a bright November afternoon, a handful of College of Communication and Information students sit in front of 10 iMac computers near the side wall of the now year-old Scripps Convergence Lab. Cozy couches and chairs beckon from the common area of the lab, housed in room 402 in the Communications Building. The lab affords floor-to-ceiling views of Neyland Stadium’s shimmering new façade, while the observation and meeting room down the hall is full of laptops; cords crossing and students chipping away at a big assignment. A class meeting occupies the studio and theater, which seats up to 80 people. The scene provides a picture-perfect portrait of productivity.
But this is just another day for the 4,000-square-foot lab, funded in part by the Scripps Howard Foundation. The multi-purpose space has proven to be the perfect place for all CCI students to work, mingle and even rest. Call it organic media relations. “Having this space in the building has worked as we hoped it would, for people to do a little teamwork, have a little downtime and gain a sense of their own space within the college,” says John McNair, CCI director of technology. The original idea behind the “convergence” lab was that it would bring together all types of media. “As it turns out, we’re also converging the schools within this college,” says McNair.
While the conference, observation and theater rooms are sometimes utilized for classes or meetings, for the most part they act as additional common areas. McNair says student and faculty feedback has been very positive, although he also notes some alumni envy. “I hear people saying, ‘I wish I had this when I was a freshman’ or recent graduates coming back (and saying) ‘I wish I had this when I was in school here.’” McNair hopes the lab can offer new technology every year so future graduates can also say, “I wish we had that when I was here.” – Story by Jordan Lawson; photo by Logan Utsan