On the third floor of the University of New Orleans’ Earl K. Long Library is a space culled out specifically for dreamers and innovators needing to add a little gypsum, plastic—or even fabric—to help move their ideas into the physical realm.
“Really your imagination is the limit as far as actually producing things in here,” said Dennis Baker, library services assistant.
Welcome to The Innovation Lab, an interdisciplinary workspace designed to encourage students to explore new technology in a relaxed environment.
The lab was opened in 2016 with funds from a Louisiana Board of Regents grant written by the library, computer science and film arts faculty. It incorporates a series of rooms and equipment that include four 3D printers, sewing machines and a green screen station paired with a computer that has pre-loaded software allowing users to upload photos and create dozens of different backdrops.
There are also individual computer workstations available for multimedia editing, sofas, chairs and tables that can be configured for group projects, a virtual reality studio and a gaming lab for E-sports.
“This creates a space that any level student can come in and be successful at creating materials,” said Lora Amsberryaugier, interim dean of the library.
Library faculty, staff and the library's technology student assistants are available to help students. Additionally, the library offers a series of 3D printing training classes for students and faculty that, once completed, allows them solo access to the printing room and advance 3D machines at their leisure.
As a part of Privateer Plunge Spring Splash events, the library has offered an introduction session to 3D printing, which counts as the first lesson in the training series. There’s an intro session scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1, at 12:15 p.m. in Room 320 of the library.
“We don’t want you to shy away from technology; we try to make it as easy as possible,” said Robert Yates, library administrative coordinator and an instructor for the 3D printing certification class. “Our end goal is to get students from all disciplines, whether they are theater and want to make stage props or if it’s a student who just wants to do something for Mardi Gras.”
The training sessions are led by Yates, Baker and Brian McDonald, technology training and support specialist at the library.
The next training course will start Feb. 20. Students who want to sign up for the training sessions can register here.