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Gerdes looking to foster innovation, belonging in Rhodos living learning community – UofSC News & Events

As the new faculty director of the Rhodes Fellows Living Learning Community, John Gerdes broadens students’ horizons in information, design and computer science.

Innovative technology and design, academic progress and his students are things that John Gerdes is passionate about. As the new faculty head of the Rhodes Fellows living learning community, Gerdes hopes to build a supportive atmosphere that encourages curiosity and supports the creativity of his students.

Gerdes brings years of expertise in information technology to his new position and aims to help meet the needs and interests of each of his students. Rhodes is a diverse community, including 52 majors from across the university. Together with the other Rhodes staff, he offers unique opportunities to collaborate to broaden their academic horizons in the fields of information, design and computer science.

“I’ve had a very positive experience as a student, and I’d like to repay that by giving my students a similar experience,” says Gerdeswho is also an associate professor in the College of Engineering and Computing. “I had faculties that were concerned and would communicate with me, so I got to know them. That early experience influenced my entire career. I hope to do the same for my students.”

The Rhodes Fellows Living Learning Community enables students to take ownership of their ideas in a pre-professional, creative and collaborative environment. Students experience the benefits of community and connection that come with a traditional campus living experience. In addition, the program facilitates relationships with faculty, student services, and undergraduate research, and provides fellows with tools, experiences, and personalized guidance that lead to better grades and pass rates.

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The program is “truly intended to be the one-stop shop for anyone looking to advance their skills, whether they are political scientists or biological scientists, artists or engineers,” said Rhodes Assistant Faculty Principal Amelia Quint.

Rhodes Fellows have exclusive 24/7 access to the onsite Rhodes Makerspace, a creative house that is “part engineering lab, part art studio”. With its diverse array of equipment and technology, it is one of the few places of its kind in the country.

The makerspace is equipped with microcontrollers, 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, video equipment, 360 lens imaging and other technologies for students to explore, pursue and bring their ideas to life – something Gerdes is very excited to see come true.

“The possibilities are really limitless,” he says. Past fellows have designed and built a full-size arcade unit with over 50 classic games, recorded podcasts, and created a new card game. Fellows also have access to exclusive undergraduate research grants and grants to fund their independent projects.

“We always want to see students shine, and what we can produce in the makerspace – be it prototypes for new designs, be it the start of new research projects or artistic output – those are the things that really set us apart” Quint says.

Gerdes is excited to introduce opportunities for students to get involved in modern technology that expands their interests into areas that were previously not open to them. Delivering an introductory technology course, bringing in expert guest speakers from various fields, and leading a technology-focused program of study are on his list of plans. But more importantly, Gerdes wants students to know they have the support to achieve their goals.

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“He is very passionate about serving students and is very much looking forward to getting to know them and building a strong relationship with our students that will grow over time,” said Quint.

From organizing a tournament to share his love of chess to introducing an open door policy for discussion, Gerdes aims to support the academic, professional and personal growth of his students and learn with them along the way.

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Topics: Faculty, Experiential Learning, College of Engineering and Computer Science



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