I’ve been reflecting on our work at DePaul’s Idea Realization Lab as the Fall Term closes. Since opening in September, we’ve had over 1,300 unique people come through our space. The students have built the IRL from the ground up: from the furniture, to the decorations on the wall, and everything in between. Most importantly, we have created a home for students, faculty, and staff alike to feel comfortable, commune with one another, and learn by making.
This could not have been done without the hard work from our professional, student, and faculty and staff advisory boards. It especially couldn’t have been done without our student workers. And, in a very meaningful way, it also couldn’t have been done without the over 1,000 enthusiastic people who came through to make and tinker with things.
Running a maker lab is about putting the people first, and I attribute much of our success to doing just that. Students run the workshops, teach others how to use the machines, Make without worrying about permission, and work together across disciplines. The growth I’ve seen in them as a result is astounding. The IRL is truly a community of learning.
A comment from a frequent student visitor sums things up better than I can put it: “I don’t know who I am without the IRL anymore.”
Here’s to a great Fall term, and an excellent upcoming Winter.