Nerd Network provides community to discuss “nerdy” pop culture


Michelle Hausman

President of Nerd Network, Ben Abbott, leads a club meeting.

Mack Foley, A&C Reporter

For nerds around campus, there is a wide range of organizations to get involved with. From anime to Quidditch, App State is far from lacking in special-interest clubs, but some students have tastes that don’t fall within a pre-existing organization. For those people, there is Nerd Network.

“The main goal of the club is to get a bunch of people who have nerdy interests or hobbies that don’t necessarily fit into one of the categories that there is already a club for on campus and put them in a situation where they can make friends with other folks who have nerdy interests,” said Ben Abbott, president of Nerd Network.

Abbott, junior computer science major, got involved with the club right when he got to App State.

“I was an out-of-state coming to Appalachian State, and I knew absolutely nobody when I came to campus,” Abbott said. “The reason why I made the friends that I did here is because I found the club and I really liked it.”

Madison Howell, senior English major and vice president of Nerd Network, got involved with the organization while looking for clubs at Club Expo her freshman year.

“I showed up and I knew nobody, but it was a really cool hangout space,” Howell said. “People were really friendly and there were so many varying interests and things people wanted to talk about.”

Nerd Network’s meeting format is part of what makes them unique. It’s never just business through and through. It begins with icebreakers and short games to help folks open up a bit and share a bit about their interests. Then, the club addresses any housekeeping for events its planning. After that, members spend the rest of the time playing board games.

In the fall, Nerd Network hosts an annual cake buffet, where students compete to bake and decorate the best nerdy cakes and desserts.

“Last semester, one of the officers baked a cake to look like a dragon egg from the Netflix show ‘The Dragon Prince’ that was actually shingled,” Howell said.

Michelle Hausman
President of Nerd Network, Ben Abbott, leads a club meeting.

The event usually revolves around a secret ingredient the club chooses, in an “Iron Chef” twist. Students bring creative solutions to their desserts to accommodate.

Outside of the cake buffet, the organization holds humans versus zombies events in Belk Library and sprinkles game nights throughout the semester. The club’s biggest draw, however, is NerdCon, a convention Nerd Network leads that takes over Plemmons Student Union for a day in late spring. The 2019 event is on March 30.

“We have tons of panels, discussions and events pertaining to all areas of nerd-dom,” Abbott said. “Usually, the panelists that we have are part of the club and have something that they want to talk about and give information on, or we have some guests who come in and have specific topics that they want to volunteer to talk about.”

NerdCon lets Nerd Network collaborate with other campus organizations to cover as much ground as possible. There’s an area set aside for artists to sell nerdy art and merchandise. The Video Game Ensemble plays and the Quidditch team holds a scrimmage, while the gaming club and the anime club set up game and screening rooms. The club also works with The Pagan Society, Japanese Culture Club, the fencing club, the Women’s Center, the Multicultural Center and the LGBT Center to bring events and panels to NerdCon, which normally sees around 250 attendees.

Going forward, the club is looking to interact with other groups on campus outside of big events more frequently, Caitlin Hallee, senior electronic media broadcasting major, said.

“I would like to see it become more partnered with other nerd groups,” said Hallee, the social chair for Nerd Network. “We could definitely do more co-op events with them. We could help sponsor an anime night with the anime club or help with some kind of gaming night.”

Club members have no shortage of plans they want to attempt, but a semi-frequent turnover in leadership makes it difficult to get much to stick. In the meantime, it’s focused on being a home for scattered nerds across App State.