With the aim of merging technology with traditional creative processes, Herron School of Art and Design announces The Think It Make It Lab, a new physical space that will help art and design students, and others on the IUPUI campus, become better informed about the broad applications of design, production and fabrication in a variety of fields.
“We are so excited at the prospect of providing a collaborative environment for research and experimentation at the intersection of art, design, technology and culture,” said Herron’s dean, Valerie Eickmeier. “Centers like this are common in Silicon Valley, but there are few housed in schools of art and design and they are scarce in the Midwest.”
“The Think It Make It Lab promotes the creative use of new technologies in a collaborative environment for research and experimentation. The Lab expands Herron’s capability to educate students to work on concept design and prototyping using a variety of digital fabrication methods. Students and faculty working in this lab engage in research, design, digital fabrication and production methodologies that will be invaluable to their own creative and professional development and to 21st century industry,” she said. “It will also be interesting to see how the center helps to foster collaborations between programs on the IUPUI campus.
“Herron already has formed solid partnerships on campus with the IU School of Medicine, the Fairbanks School of Public Health, the School of Informatics and Computing and departments such as motorsports engineering. We look forward to seeing how this lab accelerates exploration and furthers the appreciation of art and design expertise across many types of applications.
“The resources and practices of the Think It Make It Lab will enhance the fundamentals Herron already teaches in its studio concentrations. The Lab will also equip Herron students with the knowledge to design and make, guided by an informed literacy about technology and a skill set that is in very high demand in the job market.”
Eickmeier said that associate vice president for learning technologies at IUPUI, Anastasia (Stacy) Morrone, Ph.D., was instrumental in bringing Herron’s vision for the Think It Make It Lab to life. “She grasped how our vision meshed with her mission of transformative teaching through the innovative use of technology. She advocated for the commitment of important startup funding.”
Morrone said, “This lab will be a new kind of learning space for students, and the first of its kind at Indiana University. A huge part of IU’s mission, and the mission of University Information Technology Services (UITS), is to provide the technology that our faculty and students need to learn, innovate and discover—key tenets of the maker culture. We are pleased to have played a part in ensuring that IUPUI students and faculty will have access to these exciting technologies.”
Recent additions to Herron’s equipment—a 3-D scanner, 3-D printers and a CNC (computer numeric control) router—started the ball rolling, quickly making a significant impact on the curriculum and training of Herron students.
The Lab will add a new design studio with the newest computers, cameras, scanners and printers—adjacent to a digital fabrication lab containing equipment including large-format CNC routers and laser cutters, plasma cutters and milling machines.
This combination, housed in Herron’s Eskenazi Hall in close proximity to the Basile Center for Art, Design and Public Life, will accelerate exploration of digital production techniques, rapid prototyping and people-centered design research for undergraduates and graduates alike. The faculty and students currently using digital design and fabrication processes understand that the possibilities and applications in industry are boundless.
The Purdue School of Engineering and Technology on the IUPUI campus already has identified several courses that will benefit from the Lab. The School’s dean, David Russomanno said, “It will give students the ability to design for manufacturability, test their prototypes and become familiar with this equipment much earlier in their college careers. The faculty are seeking closer collaboration between research in engineering design and art. Aesthetics play an important role in mechanical design.”
The Think It Make It Lab also is expected to serve as a catalyst for visiting artist workshops, regional symposia and community based lectures and demonstrations, all of which will help establish connections that may spark exciting new partnerships with industries. Visiting speakers will be chosen from a diverse range of fields including art, architecture, engineering and manufacturing. These industry experts and scholars will expand the dialogue surrounding contemporary issues at the intersection of aesthetic expression, culture and emerging technologies.
Herron’s Community Learning Programs, which offer educational experiences to the general public, will also use the Think It Make It Lab to provide opportunities for teens to have project-based learning experiences in art and technology—experiences that help make connections to post high school careers and education.
“The space is under construction now. Faculty are very excited and they are developing curricula for fall,” said Peggy Frey, Herron’s assistant dean for fiscal and administrative affairs. “Some of the courses will be cross-listed with other schools. Additional equipment will begin arriving in January. We anticipate completion of the Think It Make It Lab by the end of the spring semester.”
The initial costs of the Think It Make It Lab are estimated $1.3 million and the project is Herron’s highest fundraising priority in 2015.