Mark Ortiz, a fourth-year student, is the student assistant/lead at the Innovation Center, who sees a lot of students peek into the room curious about what goes on in the room directly from the elevator.
The Innovation Center is a free place for students to go and print out mock designs of any creation they can think of. Whether it be educational models or models for personal use the innovation center is meant to be utilized for students use.
“Most people just stare like a deer in headlights, but really we have a wide set of different people from different majors coming in here to network and expand your perspective on your field on groundbreaking engineering ideas,” Ortiz said.
The first highlight of the center is its 3D scanners to start the printing process.
The 3D scanners require a model to copy, the models needed are 3D models, not a 2D jpeg or a pdf. The scanner scans all sides of the model when placed on the rotating disc to get precise measurements.
There are five 3D printers that print in polylactic acid, which is a corn starch based plastic that is none toxic.
Models printed out are between 8x8x8 inches to 8x8x12 inches but students do have the option to upscale their models if they choose to print it one piece at a time.
The Innovation lab also has virtual reality headsets for students to use.
They have the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which means students can create models with the VR system.
The lab held a unity convention teaching students how they can use their models in 3D gaming software. This is perfect for game designers who want to build and be part of the world they are building in a more interactive way.
They have a bunch of other electronic components like raspberry pies for cybersecurity students.
All these parts are free for use for students who can’t go out and purchase it themselves, students just have to bring a memory drive for them to download their work after use.
The unique spot in the center is the table full of inventions that were created sitting on a table located on the right side of the room.
The jumbo-sized R2-D2 model is the rooms first 3D print and can be looked at as the centers own mascot.
The center has had a quick and consistent growth of students coming through.
When the center first opened up 3 years ago it had about 20 visitors a week some new students some recurring. Now the center receives about 120 to 130 visitors a week just from students spreading the word about the center.
When asked what changes to the center Ortiz would like to see.
Ortiz replied, “I love seeing students from different walks of life come in here, it would be great to see this place expand physically, get some new equipment, and see some of the new minds collaborate and breed amazing new projects.”
Ortiz also has an interesting look on innovation himself, “It’s really just the essence of thinking outside the box, that is kind of the heart and soul of being in here. We have all these machines that have one specific purpose but we can get a million different usage out of them. Whether it ideas that are personalized or communal to help others, it all is just focusing on what you want and building towards that goal.”
So if any student has creative ideas that they want to share with the world than the Innovation Center is the place for you.