student innovation center

Construction ongoing at the site of the Student Innovation Center (SIC) Monday. The SIC is set to open January 2020.

Iowa State University’s Student Innovation Center (SIC) is set to open next January, bringing with it workspace for students from all colleges at the university.

The director of the SIC, Jim Oliver, said the initial vision statement for the center called it a “destination,” but added that word has the implication of an end-goal, whereas the SIC is more of an ignition for students to start from.

“You run into people you wouldn’t normally run into … and it leads to a new way to teach a course, or a new startup idea,” Oliver said. “That culture diffuses through the whole university, and that’s the goal.”

The site of the SIC is located on Bissell Road, north of the Materials Science and Engineering building. It has an almost entirely glass exterior, and many of the rooms inside of it will be paneled with glass.

The laboratories are lined with glass so people can see what is going on inside of them.

“It’s intended to be open and visible,” Oliver said.

There are “all kinds of little pull-outs” for studying and meetings throughout the center and “many, many” meeting rooms where groups can walk up to the door and sign-up for a time slot in the rooms.

The director stressed the SIC is open to students from all colleges at the university.

“A very substantial donor gift was made with that intent — that it serve the entire university,” Oliver said. “All of the colleges have dedicated space [in the center].”

Oliver said there are four pillars he wants all students who use the center to be exposed to.

  1. An interdisciplinary scope: meeting and working with students they normally wouldn’t meet and work with

  2. Experiential learning: learning by doing

  3. An entrepreneurial mindset: thinking like an entrepreneur

  4. A global perspective

There will be equipment in spaces throughout the center available for students to use.

“The equipment in these spaces — I want it to be that you don’t have to be an engineer or a techie to use those — there’s obviously access control and safety issues,” Oliver said.

Oliver added access to the equipment will be divided into three tiers:

  1. Equipment you can use following completion of online-training.

  2. Access-control based on ISUCards

  3. Staff member must be present in order to use equipment

Oliver said he wants the equipment accessible, easy to use and safe to use.

“There’s nothing like this in the United States, certainly,” Oliver said. “We are very fortunate to have some really loyal, and supportive alumni that got this off the ground. Great state support, great leadership of the university to essentially try this … the innovation center is an innovation in trying to better serve our students.”

The “grand opening” for the SIC is set to be held in April, due to the weather around the time of its cold open in January.

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