Delayed SkyPad lounge opens today

Fantasy meets reality today when SkyPad, a lounge area that includes a gaming room, opens to the public on the fourth floor of the Marshall Student Center (MSC).

The lounge features soft seating areas and two study pods – each equipped with an LCD screen that students can plug their laptops into to work on PowerPoint presentations or other assignments. The separate gaming lounge features five gaming stations with an LCD screen each, where students can play games using laptops or game consoles, said MSC Director Joe Synovec.

“We’re going to make five minutes of comments because we don’t want to delay this thing anymore,” said Synovec, who hosts the lounge’s official unveiling at 1:30 p.m. “We’ll open up the drapes, and then we’ll have ice cream, Rocket Popsicles and Moonpies and Pop Rocks and some green sherbet punch to match the colors (of the lounge).”

The lounge, which cost about $360,000, in addition to $80,000 to $90,000 worth of audio-video equipment, Synovec said, was originally set to open during the first week of the semester, but furniture delays pushed back the event.

“A lot of this (furniture was) all custom made (with) custom fabrics, so it took longer,” he said. “Then, we had Hurricane Irene hit.”

Irene closed ports, including one in Savannah, Ga., where some lounge furniture imported from Italy was scheduled for delivery.

The furniture’s futuristic style and the lounge’s vivid green and gold paint application led to the space’s name.

“It’s kind of futuristic, and we thought of the Jetsons,” Synovec said. “So we Googled ‘Jetsons’ and we saw the house the Jetsons lived in and … someone did a logo and wrote ‘SkyPad’ in the silhouette of the (Jetson’s house), and we all kind of looked at it and said, ‘We like that.'”

The unveiling also marks the re-opening of the Transfer Student Lounge, which had been used as a staging area for construction of the SkyPad. Even after the initial construction ended, the Transfer Student Lounge was kept closed because it directly connected to the SkyPad, Synovec said.

Though the SkyPad opens today, some features won’t be ready in time. Among them are Video Graphics Array (VGA) hookups for the study space monitors, which will “probably come the third week of September,” Synovec said.

“A lot of students’ laptops have High-Definition Multimedia Interface (connectivity) through their laptops – mine doesn’t,” he said. “So the only way I could plug into a monitor is through a VGA cable.”

Nathan Brabham, a junior majoring in computer science and senior council member in the Video Game Club at USF, said his club hopes to use the space often. The club also hopes to increase its active members, which are numbered at about 40.

“We could get a lot more popular over the next few months if people find us (through the lounge),” Brabham said.

Christopher Kiley, a senior majoring in psychology, is also excited for the lounge to open, though he said he fears the lounge could become too popular.

“I’m afraid there are going to be so many people there it’s going to defeat the purpose of it being built,” Kiley said. “The worst case that could happen would be a bunch of jerks would go in there and it wouldn’t be a fun situation, but a competitive situation. Sometimes we’ll play competitively, but sometimes it’s just for funsies.”

Taylor Steffan, a senior majoring in chemistry, said he’s surprised video gamers were recognized by the University at all.

“I think it’s interesting they actually did something for the demographic covered here,” he said. “They actually have a gaming lounge – they can’t get mad at us for goofing around.”