New “MAD Lab” at the Center of Content Creation for Students

Students sitting at desk in class
January 17, 2019

Located along the Marillac Breezeway, the new Media Arts and Design Lab, known as the MAD Lab on the University’s Queens, NY, campus, is the result of a collaboration between the College of Professional Studies (CPS) and St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to create a state-of-the-art learning space for classes.

“This learning environment has been designed to expose the students of our two colleges to the latest technology that they will undoubtedly see in their future endeavors,” said Jeffrey W. Fagen, Ph.D., Dean of St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Psychology.

Students from both colleges who use the MAD Lab study digital media, animation, illustration, graphic design, advertising, public relations, photography, television and film, and mass communication.

“Content creation is really what this new computer lab is all about,” said Max A. Hergenrother, Director of Technology Operations for CPS and Adjunct Associate Professor, Art and Design, who helped design the facility. “This is a lab where students can focus on all forms of the digital design and commercial arts, and it is a multifunction room for all of those different kinds of commercial arts applications,” he said.

The lab includes highly equipped, professional-level, Mac Pro work stations with Cintiq tablets—which are used in 3D modeling, illustration, and retouching photographs. Students can set them on their laps to draw and paint directly on the tablet screens.

Kayla Alarcon, a senior majoring in Illustration, said such innovations have proven to be an invaluable resource as she strives to hone and deepen her artistic skills. “The graphics tablet that you can actually access in class is a major benefit because, in the past, we did not have this technology at our fingertips. Students are now able to do all the hands-on learning that they need to do, right here in the classroom.”

Katia Passerini, Ph.D., Dean of CPS, described the MAD Lab as a space for creativity where students can be themselves as they also work together. “The MAD Lab offers a way for students to learn the theory inherent in their chosen profession—the basics of digital photography, for example, or how to develop animation that meets industry standards. Students are also encouraged to spend time practicing and building those skills that will prepare them to jump into a project in their future place of employment.”

Writable walls and a large table for student collaboration are also available, as well as laser printers and a large format, museum-quality printer for students to copy larger pieces they have designed.

Students studying 3D modeling can have their design prototypes 3D printed next door in the Technology Commons. In addition, the exterior of the MAD Lab has been fashioned to showcase and market students’ creations.

“Special audiovisual technology was included on the exterior faces of the lab to allow anyone walking by to see what new course-related, creative content is being produced by our students,” said Eric Alvarado, another major architect of the design for the MAD Lab. Professor Alvarado is Director of Academic Technology, Office of Information Technology, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in CPS.

“I plan to be an arts educator, but my training at St. John’s has given me tools that enable me to do freelance and design work,” Kayla added. “I found a really great home here at St. John’s and in the MAD Lab. I have been given a lot of resources to help me grow in a wonderfully positive direction with my art and I believe I have successfully developed the foundations I need to establish a great career.”