BY Celia Zevon
On Jan. 31 faculty, staff, students and others from the Sacred Heart community gathered at West Campus to commemorate the opening of the IDEA Lab.
The IDEA Lab is a collaborative makerspace that is open to anyone in the Sacred Heart community for educational or personal use. Stefanie Poulos, Executive Assistant to the Provost/Office Manager, explains that the IDEA Lab’s name stands for Innovate, Design, Engineer, and Apply.
The goal of the IDEA Lab is to allow individuals to generate an idea, create a process, and engineer around that concept, ultimately allowing for innovation as well as personal and academic growth.
Poulos explains that the IDEA lab promotes making and entrepreneurship by featuring machines and tools such as 3D printers, a laser cutting machine, a water-jet cutting machine and much more.
“We will offer training for our equipment, workshops to come and create with us, as well as OpenLabs to foster a community of makers. There will also be consultations for our faculty to help them integrate the IDEA Lab into their curriculums,” said Poulos.
Linda E. McMahon was the featured guest speaker at the grand opening of the IDEA Lab. McMahon previously worked at Sacred Heart and continues to show her support through contributions such as Linda E. McMahon Commons.
In her speech, McMahon said, “The success of helping small businesses grow and the success there in of keeping our economy strong and growing is having our educational resources and our business communities come together.”
This lab not only promotes innovation but is an innovation. Students can be more prepared for future careers by being up-to-date with 21st century technical skills and critical thinking techniques.
Following McMahon’s speech, President John Petillo and McMahon cut the grand opening ribbon together with the faculty involved in the process and the school’s cheerleading team standing behind them in support.
Students, faculty, staff, and others were able to take a tour of the IDEA Lab led by students in the Jack Welch College of Business and Technology.
A video was played showcasing the students and professor’s excitement in this advancement for the school of computer science.
Sophomore and student in the Jack Welch College of Business and Technology Megan Murphy said, “I think that the IDEA Lab is great for students to not just learn about what they will do after Sacred Heart, but also to experience it. The hands-on experience is such an amazing opportunity for students.”
At the event, Provost Rupendra Paliwal made an opening speech explaining that the concept for the IDEA Lab originated three years ago when the Board of Trustees realized that Sacred Heart needed a presence in engineering. Paliwal said that after getting everything arranged from the faculty to the curriculum, there was an apparent need for some form of a lab where people could use state-of-the-art technology and practice critical thinking skills so that students could carry that experience beyond the university and into the workforce.
In his speech, Paliwal explains how he conducted research that led to the discovery of a lab at the nearby Yale University.
“We took a road trip to Yale to look at their lab. They were very friendly and gave us the do’s and don’ts of what they learned when making the lab. We came back and said, ‘We can build something better,’” said Paliwal.
This isn’t the first makerspace at Sacred Heart. It all started with Professor Tolga Kaya who started a makerspace in his office in 2017. Paliwal explains that those involved used this experience as a guide and since then have introduced the Verizon iHub, a cyber security lab, a virtual reality lab, and now the IDEA Lab.
Following Paliwal, President John Petillo addressed the crowd at the event.
Petillo said, “This is another example that we are Pioneers, that we are willing to take risks and we are willing to travel that road with our students. It is really wonderful to see and encourage them to be cutting edge and to do things. This is just the beginning; I am convinced there will be other marvelous opportunities.”