What’s going on in Stratford?

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If you’re a first year global business & digital arts (GBDA) student, then you’ve likely heard that you will be having classes at the University of Waterloo’s Stratford campus. For the first two years, you’ll be there once a week and there’ll be a shuttle bus to take you there and back from the UW main campus. The campus provides some unique opportunities and you’ll learn to love it during your four years in the program. Here’s a breakdown of all the resources and best hangout spots you’ll find on the campus.

One of the first things you’ll notice when you enter the building is the giant three-storey screen. It is made up of Christie Digital MicroTiles and is the tallest screen in the world made of these tiles. Throughout your courses in GBDA, you will make content that will later be shown on this screen for the whole campus to see, ranging from infographics, to logos, to videos, to characters created using computer code.

The Engage Lab is definitely one of the most exciting parts about the campus. In this first-floor room, you’ll find a 3D printer, a 4K television, 3D TVs, Oculus Rifts, Kinects, and more. These resources are available for students to explore emerging interactive technologies and do research on user experience and gamification. This is a great supplement to the coursework as it allows you to delve deeper into these topics if you’re interested. You can also gain experience with brand new pieces of tech so you can stay up-to-date and have a unique advantage when you graduate.

The first floor is also home to the Stratford branch of the Accelerator Centre. Here you’ll find new startups who are trying to get themselves established in Stratford. This area is also open to students, so don’t be afraid to come in and talk to the people there! There’s even a small kitchen area and a set of lockers where you can charge your phone. If you are interested in starting a business of your own, the people here will be willing to help you out.

On both the second and third floors of the building, project rooms are available for student use. You’ll find yourself spending a lot of time in them due to the amount of group work in GBDA (and they make a good lunch spot too). Each of these rooms has one wall that is a whiteboard, which means you can draw all over it with the markers provided. It’s a great way of getting your ideas out in an open space. The second floor project rooms all have televisions as well, so you can connect your laptop and share your screen with your group members.

You can find multiple Mac labs on the second and third floors. These are prepared with any software you need for your courses, including the full Adobe Creative Suite. Unless they’re booked for a class, these computers are available for you to come in and do your work at any time. There are also some smaller rooms meant for video editing that each have only one iMac. This can give you a bit of privacy and really lets you focus on your work.

One of the second floor project rooms has been converted into a green screen room. You can film in here and later edit the background to whatever you choose. This will come in handy for your second-year video projects.

There is also a separate audio lab, which is a full-fledged recording studio. This is another great resource for students who need to record voiceovers or other audio for a project. Just make sure you book a slot online so that you can go in and use it.

One of the best things about the Stratford campus is that it offers free equipment rentals to students. Just bring your WatCard and you can sign out DSLR cameras, GoPros, tripods, audio kits, lighting kits, and more. Anything you could need for video production, you’ll find here. Just remember to bring all your equipment back by the due date (for first-year students, it’s usually one week after renting).

The third floor features a cafeteria, which is another great spot to eat lunch with your friends. There are microwaves on every floor (one in the Accelerator Centre, one on the second floor near the washrooms, and one in the cafeteria on the third floor). They help if you like to pack your own lunch for those long Stratford days. Also, make sure you enjoy the outdoor patio while the weather is still nice!

While your access to the Stratford campus is limited to one day a week for the first two years of your studies, make sure you get well-acquainted with it. By the time you get to third year, you’ll know it like the back of your hand and you’ll be able to make the most of what this campus has to offer. Make sure you take advantage of the opportunities you have, as they aren’t available to students back on the main campus.

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