One of the things I’ve been most pleased with since the Idea Realiazation Lab opened five weeks ago is the sheer amount of things we’ve created that exist in our space. And not only in our space, but throughout the entire University. From shirts for the lacrosse team to decals for our Hospitality Department, and from centerpieces for Family Weekend to the table we’re working on for our new president, the things that our students have been putting out there can be found everywhere you go on campus.
This, to me, speaks to the success of the space more than any other numbers could. Not only do students feel like they are part of the IRL, and not only do they feel comfortable and capable of using the machines within it, but they are now taking those same ideas and bringing them to other places. They are, in effect, beginning to help export our culture of making and tinkering to the rest of the institution through the artifacts that they help design and develop.
You’ll be seeing more about this in the coming months. We’re currently working on a student group that can lead these kinds of engagements, both with departments and organizations inside DePaul, and with companies outside. Students should have more experiences like this in academia: ones where they can put their ideas into practice, and where they can begin to feel a sense of agency over the classrooms, hallways, and gathering places around them by unlocking their latent creative potential and applying it to the very spaces that we all learn in.
What could this mean for how we look at our University environment? How will it change when students feel like their institution isn’t simply a place where they swing by for a class, and then leave, and instead becomes a place where they can contribute to its creative potential by practicing the very things that they’re learning? How can we continue to build on this kind of experience to help expose systems in a way that allows students to engage with them, deconstruct them, and put them back together?
Here are just a few pictures of some of the small projects we’ve worked on at the IRL in the last five weeks: