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From Making Games to Managing Equipment: CAMD Graduate Student Spends Co-op in Experimental Technologies Lab

Riddhi Padte, Game Science and Design

Riddhi Padte is a student in Northeastern’s Game Design and Science Graduate Program. She is currently completing her second co-op at the CAMD Experimental Technologies Lab, where she has a variety of responsibilities. Though she is still in the first two months of this role, she has already learned a lot from the experience. We had the opportunity to hear about her experience working in the virtual reality lab thus far. Read more about it, below!

What are your responsibilities at the Experimental Technologies Lab? What does an average day at work look like for you?

Besides keeping the lab available and open for other students, my main responsibility is to take care of all the equipment. There are several complex pieces of biometric equipment which have to be kept charged and ready for student use. One of my other responsibilities is to guide the students if they ever get stuck at a point while using the equipment. I also write out instructions and make video tutorials for students who want to use equipment but do not have prior experience with it. On a normal work day, I check that all of the equipment is charged and ready and then write out such instructions. I also have some longer-term projects, such as making a game on Mixed Reality using HoloLens to showcase at the PAX East.

What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on in this position so far?

My favorite project so far is the one on which I am currently working. I was given an assignment to make a small game of Mixed Reality using HoloLens. Being a graduate student in Game Science and Design, this is an interesting opportunity and I am excited to try and make a game all by myself. Before this came up, I had another project that entailed writing a basic tutorial for the use of a 360 Camera. I had no experience in making 360 videos at the time and therefore, had to learn how to use the camera first. It was a rewarding feeling when I made the video, wrote a tutorial on it, and then ended up learning a skill that I don’t think I would have learned otherwise.

Northeastern’s Experimental Technologies Lab works on a variety of subjects related to Virtual Reality ranging from games and entertainment to cognition and healthcare delivery research. Which VR topic interests you the most and why?

Virtual Reality has a wide range of applications. There are many virtual reality experiences which have immersive storytelling features. In certain museums, for instance, they use virtual reality to enhance the visitors’ understanding of certain events in history. I am also very interested in the medical applications of virtual reality. There are tools which let surgeons practice complex surgeries before actually operating on real patients. Virtual reality applications also lead to a number of different possibilities to try out new ways of doing surgery, which can end up saving a lot of lives.

What has been the most rewarding part of your experience at this co-op so far?

The most rewarding part of my experience so far has been my increase in knowledge. I am learning and using equipment that I would have never used otherwise. I get to help other students with the equipment that I know well, and in return, I get learn from others. The VR Lab is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and it is always a great experience learning and using tools like VR headsets or VR Walking Pods. I also get to meet so many students doing such interesting research and projects. It is a wholesome experience.

Beyond this co-op, are there any other particularly notable experiences you’ve had that you feel were instrumental in gaining experience? (Past jobs, classes, extracurriculars etc.)

I had taken a class last semester called Biometrics for Design which taught me how to use the biometrics equipment in the lab for designing digital experiences. I learned how different modalities can be used in different kinds of research. This class was very instrumental in spiking my curiosity about the lab and its equipment, which essentially led me to take this co-op.