One of the problems I identified early on in the process of developing IRL2 is the abundance of siloed “making spaces” around the DePaul campus. Now that we have the IRL (in our Loop campus) and IRL2 (in our Lincoln Park campus), why not use those two spaces as hubs to network these additional spaces together and open access to all students?
Thus, the idea of the Forge Network at DePaul was developed. Still in its early planning phases, and quite far from gaining widespread approval, the Forge Network aims to connect “students, faculty, and staff with fabrication and making resources across the University through a networked system to increase accessibility, improve return on investment, and to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration.”
The ultimate goal is that, as an incoming DePaul student, one will receive their student ID and, thus, a passport to multiple spaces on campus where you can make things and gain exposure to multi-disciplinary learning. From greenhouses, to physics labs, to printing facilities, students from across Depaul will have the opportunity to share and learn from each other, and work on ideas together. This may seem like a no-brainer, but in a world where both learning and professions have become highly specialized, it is a rather novel concept to work across disciplines (I have seen this in much of my professional practice work outside of DePaul as well).
Not to mention we’re doing this at a liberal arts institution!
Right now the Forge Network is in its infancy, and we’re still unsure what direction it will take. In the coming months, I hope to provide a fourth update to this series where we go more in-depth to what that plan looks like, and how we came up with a framework to develop this at DePaul. In the meantime (and if you’re looking for what a network like this could look like once implemented), I’d check out MIT’s Project Manus, one of the inspirations for our project at DePaul.