Iris Suite grand opening

The Department of English is hosting the Iris Technical-Communication Suite ribbon cutting ceremony and open house on Thursday from 2-4 p.m. in Evans Complex room 251 to give tours, equipment demonstrations and provide refreshments and conversation with faculty who are familiar with the suite.   

The Iris Suite is a creative space that provides industry-standard technologies in audio, video, print and digital document production such as Adobe Audition, Apple Garage Band, Adobe Premiere, Apple iMovie, InDesign, Photoshop, Acrobat, Illustrator, the Makerbot Print software for a 3D printer and more.

The current hours for the suite are Monday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hours will expand as the demand for the space increases.

As for equipment demand, students generally do not need to make reservations. However, if one item becomes too scarce due to high demand, there will be electronic sign-up sheets, so students can check equipment availability.

The suite is open to all students but is best suited for those with project-related needs in a Technical Writing, English course or any project that was assigned with the Iris equipment in mind. For example, it is not a general-access IT “lab” for students to simply print papers.

Students must bring their Sam Houston State University ID to Iris and check in at the front desk to log which course and professor a student is taking for the suite’s tracking system.

The Department of English and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) helped make the Iris Suite a reality, along with some key people: Dean of CHSS Abbey Zink, Associate Dean of CHSS Carroll Nardone, Administrative Coordinator of CHSS Brittany Johnson, Assistant to the Chair of English Shanna Hollis, Visiting Assistant Professor of Technical Communication Brandon Strubberg and the Associate Professor of Technical Communication Brian Blackburne.

Blackburne said he and colleagues have been wanting a space like this for years, but it was not until Fall 2016 when Zink provided the opportunity for space and funding. All the funds for Iris came from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Though the space was finished in Fall 2017, it was not fully operational until now.

“Dr. Nardone, Strubberg, and I have always wanted a place where students could access the types of tools that we’ve needed as technical communicators in industry and academia,” Blackburne said. “We’ve always worked with students to make the most of their personal technologies, but we knew that our workarounds had limitations. Now students can focus on the process of creating without worrying about how to access the necessary equipment.”

Blackburne said this new space not only aligns with the department’s goal to empower students to create professional work but has allowed students to work in meaningful ways.

“Students are already benefitting from the space,” Blackburne said. “For example, this semester, Dr. Strubberg is having his Rhetoric students create podcasts and produce and edit videos for course assignments. Dr. Nardone and I have students who are using the professional photography equipment to produce high-quality images for client-based projects. I’ve also had my students printing professional-quality documents using our color laser printer and cutting/binding equipment.”

There are 28 seats across the different work stations, and Blackburne is confident that there is enough room for students to create.

“Iris is a place where students can work fluidly,” Blackburne said. “All the chairs can be moved around easily, and a good deal of equipment is mobile too. Whether students want to collaborate on projects, work on iPad Pros or record audio in the sound booth, a variety of tasks can happen at once.”

Blackburne is thankful and excited for the completed space.

“Seeing Iris completed feels fantastic,” Blackburne said. “Moving the space from concept to reality took a lot of planning and work, but it all paid off. One of the great parts about working for SHSU is that our administrators really listen to faculty and students’ needs. And people like Dean Zink understand the importance of looking beyond what is working ‘today’ as a way of enhancing students’ experiences tomorrow. Now that Iris is up and running, we can’t wait to see the wonderful things that students will do with it.”

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