CoLab, Ohio University’s newest addition to Alden Library, opened in September and aims to foster multidisciplinary collaboration among undergraduate students.
CoLab was proposed in 2015 by two students, Lori Bentz and Alex Kneier, who were part of the Stanford University Innovation Fellowship program. They were inspired by the program and wanted a collaborative area meant to facilitate cross-disciplinary collisions, said Matt Thompson, program manager of CoLab.
Bentz and Kneier presented the idea to OU and got approved for a $1 million project. The university provost office secured and provided $600,000, and the remaining $400,000 was donated by Board of Trustees members David Pitwell and Winston Breeden.
The CoLab, on the third floor of Alden Library, used to be the faculty commons, Thompson said.
The three main goals of the CoLab project were to introduce and establish innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship and because of this, the spaces of CoLab are vast and innovative.
There are five areas students can work. The main collaboration lounge is a space for students to communicate and combine ideas. Other areas include a materialization room, which is a small room with provided building supplies. The CoLab also plans to get 3D pens and Raspberry Pi programming computers.
“Every college has their idea of what collaboration is, but this is a space that is bringing everyone together to collaborate on ideas and issues, providing all of the resources from all those different colleges,” said Winter Wilson, current Stanford University Innovation Fellow junior studying HTC Environmental Studies and Journalism.
The CoLab also features five student incubation pods each set up differently, with a variety of standing desks, couches, big chairs and bean bags. These areas are designed for students who wish to use physical office space to complete their academic projects.
All majors are welcome to use the space.
“(In the CoLab) we do quizzes together and we study together.” Devon Taylor, a freshman studying Exercise Physiology, said. “It’s better than the 2nd floor because it’s really loud and kind of crowded. But it’s not too quiet in here either. We can talk but still be focused.”
The project is a collaboration among: The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, University Libraries, the Center for Entrepreneurship, the College of Business, the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, the Scripps College of Communication, the Office of Instructional Innovation, the Research Division and the Stanford University Epicenter Innovation Fellows.
“The idea is that it’s an open physical space for students to come together (to focus) on innovation and collaboration,” Wilson said. “Having that sort of multidisciplinary aspect to it where these ideas of innovation and entrepreneurship are not siloed into one college on campus.”