Q&A: Jesus Govela, Makerspace lead


How has work in the Makerspace changed since remote operations began at UW Bothell? Jesus Govela, lead administrative staff, answers a few questions from Maria Lamarca Anderson, UW Bothell director of communications.

Jesus Govela

Q. What would you normally be doing now and where?

A. I was hired in early March of 2020 to lead the development of the VR/AR lab that the Makerspace was interested in starting. In the short time before remote operations kicked in, I was helping two student capstone teams in the Interactive Media Design major develop their virtual reality applications and helping them set up and use the VR equipment. Only my supervisor Rafael Silva and I were working in the lab until June, when my role expanded to managing general operations as lead staff. As a result, I didn’t really get to see what “normal” was for Makerspace operations.

I imagine I would be in the Makerspace a lot more often helping students and some staff and faculty with their academic and personal projects. I would definitely be meeting many more new people and passionate students face to face and teaching them how to use the Makerspace’s resources. I also imagine there would be more capstones and other large projects that would require help from me and the other Makerspace staff.

I would also be meeting fellow staff from the recently formed Office of Connected Learning in person instead of only getting to know them via Zoom. I do look forward to having meetings with them in person.

Q. What are you trying to work on today?

Jesus Govela
Jesus Govela in the Makerspace. Courtesy photo.

A. Today is Wednesday, which is almost always my busy day because lots of meetings and events tend to fall on that day. I had a meeting in the morning with Rafael to discuss updates on Makerspace operations and plans for later in the year. Then I did my usual check of both my work email and the Makerspace’s email for any requests from students or staff and replied accordingly. Today is special because there is a virtual event for admitted students that I will be presenting at later as the Makerspace representative.

I’ll also be passing along student fabrication requests to our student staff to prepare for when I go to campus later this week. After the fabrication is complete, I’ll need to coordinate a time to meet with the students on campus and hand them their requested items.

There are always other long-term tasks to do such as drafting a new page on the Makerspace website and working on hiring more student staff for the fall, but I will most likely not get to those until later in the week. Other than the event today, the rest is a typical workday for me these days.

Q. What adjustments have you made to fulfill your work responsibilities?

A. I’ve made quite a few adjustments to my home setup since last year. Because I’m very interested in video games, VR and technology in general, I was already thinking of upgrading my home setup before I was hired. The new job along with the remote working was what helped me make the decision to upgrade to two monitors (which is amazing, I highly recommend), get a better microphone and get a decent webcam. I also completely remodeled my room to be more like a workspace and installed a Murphy bed that I can put away whenever I’m working on VR projects. I’m very happy with how it turned out and grateful to my family for helping make my workspace more comfortable.

Aside from changing my workspace, I’ve also learned to work on my communication habits with colleagues. I’m fairly soft spoken and still a bit shy around new people, but over the last year I’ve gotten better at communicating with co-workers and people in general. I’m much better at articulating my thoughts and feelings through text than through speech, but I want to get better at speaking and presenting in general, so this role is helping me work on that.

Q. What are you doing to care for yourself or for others?

A. I make it a point to try to finish all my work for the day as early as possible just so I can stay ahead, make edits if I have extra time and have the evenings free to relax and take my mind off work. I try to play some video games online with friends every day for fun. I’m also trying to start exercising more often to stay healthy, but it can sometimes be difficult due to feeling tired after work or just not having enough time in the day.

I’m a bit of a completionist and don’t like leaving work unfinished if I can help it, so I tend to get fixated on working on one thing until it’s done completely. This has led to me sometimes realizing I’ve spent more time on something then I should have and leaving less time for other tasks or having it eat into my evening (especially when I go to campus). I’ve made an effort to better prioritize tasks and know when to stop working on one task for the day.

Q. Do you have a change of perspective to share?

A. The change in perspective from student to staff has been an interesting one. I honestly wasn’t sure what I would do after graduating in 2019 in Applied Computing (with a minor in Business), so I stuck around campus to help a few friends who were still students with their club. Then, one thing led to another, and I ended up hired to work on the VR lab and then got my current role at the Makerspace.

I wasn’t very involved in any extracurricular activities until my final year at UW Bothell, so I didn’t know too much about any of the departments and other units on campus until I started working with them in the Office of Connected Learning. It’s been very interesting seeing how things work behind the scenes and what ideas are created and executed.

I’m always thinking back to my time as a student and thinking how I can make all student-facing material and services better for them. I’ll be hiring students for Makerspace roles fairly soon as well, which is something else I’m looking forward to.

Q. What other thoughts or feelings do you want to share?

A. I feel excited for the future when things start going back to normal and I can meet with students and others more regularly. I really enjoy helping people, and this role at the Makerspace has given me opportunities to assist students during these unusual times despite being remote. I am greatly thankful to be able to fill this role that has taught me so much and still has a lot more to teach. I’m also thankful to all the other students and staff who have been very helpful and understanding.

There are a lot of exciting developments such as the new STEM building and the remodels of the Makerspace and Husky Village that I’m looking forward to seeing completed.

The future is looking brighter, and I know we’ll all make it.

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