On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, the UCR Library and the Office of Research and Economic Development (RED) opened the Creat’R Lab to a standing-room only crowd of more than 150 excited students, faculty, and staff in the Orbach Science Library.
Key UCR leadership including Chancellor Kim Wilcox, Vice-Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Michael Pazzani and University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble stood shoulder-to-shoulder with students from organizations including IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), SWE (Society of Women Engineers), ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), and the Cosplay Brigade, among others. The students were eagerly awaiting the chance to use the space for hands-on experimentation, learning and making for electronics, prototyping, sewing, 3D scanning and printing, and more.
“It’s is a great, great day for UCR,” announced Chancellor Kim Wilcox. “When I think about Creat’R Lab, I think about tools and the connection between ability and opportunity. We have a lot of people on the campus with all kinds of talent, and now we have some tools.”
Second-year electrical engineering student Gustavo Correa shared in his welcome comments that he had wanted to establish a makerspace on campus in fall quarter 2016, but then Jeff McDaniel, a Lecturer in the Bourns College of Engineering and a member of the Creat’R Lab development team, invited Correa to get involved with the Creat’R Lab.
Describing the conception of and intention behind the Creat’R Lab, Correa said, “[It] is designed to be a safe learning environment for students from all majors, from all backgrounds, from all technical levels… to introduce to students the current technologies that exist, that engineers and everyone are using to solve real-world problems, to create projects, and to express themselves creatively.”
“What really makes me excited right now is to see the collaboration of the students, of the staff really working together to accelerate the learning and the opportunities that the students have and that the student organizations can provide,” said Jeff McDaniel. “We have lots of workshops, we have lots of activities going on. But really, this space is about the students. This is for the students, for the faculty, and the students inside of the faculty (because we never stop learning) – and for everybody that’s always learning – to use this space to experiment, to make things, to create things, to start a company.”
Michalis Faloutsos, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and the Director of Entrepreneurship for UC Riverside remarked on the symbiotic relationship that will exist between the Creat’R Lab, EPIC (Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept and Innovation Center), and the ExCITE Incubator to support entrepreneurial endeavors at UC Riverside.
Reflecting on the selection of the name “Creat’R Lab,” Vice Chancellor Michael Pazzani commented, “This could have been called ‘makerspace,’ but making is routine. What we really want people (to do) here is to create something new, things that no one has done before. And that’s really where innovation and entrepreneurship comes from.”
“That’s why I wanted to see something like this here in the library,” added University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble. “Libraries have always been about connecting people and ideas and creating opportunities for people to create new knowledge, to collaborate, test ideas, and this couldn’t be a more perfect opportunity to do that. We can bring students and faculty from all over campus… and let you play.”
In closing, Mandeville-Gamble imparted the following tips to Creat’R Lab users:
”Go out and collaborate. Make mistakes. If we don’t make mistakes, if we’re not willing to take risks and make mistakes, we’re not going to learn. Play… I don’t mean play just to while away the time. I mean play to create and learn and get excited and figure out new things that no one else has thought about before. This space is to dream, to allow you to dream about things you want to do that you might not have thought possible. And finally, explore. This space is for you, the students and faculty, to explore the world through art, through objects, through new technologies, new methodologies.”
If the launch event crowd size was any indication of future student demand on the Creat’R Lab, the UCR Library may need to expand beyond the three rooms it currently occupies (Orbach Science Library, rooms 140, 144, and 145), both in terms of space and in terms of the equipment available for use.
Those who are interested in using the space, or hosting or attending a workshop can find more information on the library’s Creat’R Lab page.