The Easterner recently caught up with Robert Brown, a senior PUB Lab employee who was working late on Friday of finals week. The lab, nestled on the third floor of the PUB, is considered by Brown to be one of the best-equipped spaces on campus, but also one of the least-utilized.
The Easterner: Can you explain a little about what the PUB Lab is and what is available for students?
Robert Brown: A lot of people on campus don’t know about it. It’s a nice place for people: access to computers and help if you need it. We have Cintiq Tablets, new iMacs, Wacom tablets, scanner, videocassette decks, video editing software, a recording studio, a multimedia room with green screen and spotlights, a color laser printer, a photo printer and loveseats for multiple people to watch movies with headphones. There’s a lot of stuff up here for people to use. They just don’t know about it. We have [signs inside and outside the PUB] … but it’s hard to get people to know about it.Most people we get up here are trying to be considerate. Rarely do we have anyone we need to talk to. We know the regulars, and they know us by name. We also have pretty good hours … we need people to use the lab in order to justify keeping those hours.
TE: Can you explain what it means to be an employee in the PUB lab?
RB: Our job is to assist students, make rounds [to assist students], replace paper and generally just make sure the lab is in order.
Our policy is to always go over and try to help. People always say, ‘Sorry for bothering you, but could I get some help?’ [Brown smiles]. It’s not a bother, it’s our job. We’re hired based off of experience, people skills, knowledge about computers and troubleshooting skills — basically, if you don’t know what to do or what the problem is, can you find out? Most of our employees are [visual communication design] or [computer science] majors, … they have a lot of experience. So, for me, I’m in my third year working here, and I’m a senior [computer science] major.
TE: One of the interesting things about the Lab is all the quirky posters and jerseys that are hanging on the walls. What is the story behind that?
RB: Most of the posters were made about seven years ago, before my time. There were some VCD students who worked here and made all that stuff. The jerseys are for people who have worked here for over 1,000 hours. Each employee has a unique ID number, so they put that on the jersey. It’s kind of cool … I would be proud to leave something that remained. They stopped doing that several years ago.
TE: It seems like there is a sense of community surrounding the lab and its employees. Can you speak to that?
RB: We have fairly close quarters with co-workers. I’ve become friends with everyone here. It’s like a little family; you are all working together. We have about 15 people working each quarter. No one really quits the job … it’s a nice job for school. You can’t get much better.
I do stuff with people outside of work. This year, I’m roommates with a few [people I know from here]. We get together every week and have a movie night, stuff like that. When I started at Eastern, one of my friends worked here. Computers are a big part of who I am … I want to share that with people.