New makerspace to open on Lincoln Park Campus

DePaul Idea Realization Lab
This summer, construction will begin on a makerspace located in the Schmitt Academic Center on the Lincoln Park Campus. DePaul opened its first makerspace, the Idea Realization Lab, in the Loop in 2017. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
Coming soon to the Lincoln Park Campus: a new makerspace that will inspire students to design, create and innovate. 

Set to open at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year, the makerspace will be located on the second floor of the Schmitt Academic Center. Construction will begin this summer to transform the space, which is currently a computer lab, into a state-of-the-art facility. 

DePaul was one of the first large liberal arts universities to open a makerspace, known as the Idea Realization Lab, on the Loop Campus in fall 2017. Since opening the space, which is located on the third floor of the Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd, more than 10,000 visitors have experienced this unique makerspace. More than 200 university events, ranging from workshops to student group activities, have taken place in the space as well. From laser cutters to 3-D printers to a stop animation studio, the Idea Realization Lab features a wide range of creative equipment enabling students to bring their concepts to life. 

“Academic makerspaces are hands-on learning at its best,” says Jay Margalus, an instructor in the College of Computing and Digital Media and a co-founder of the lab. “Makerspaces teach students how to work with uncertainty. They learn how to work toward a solution. “

The new LPC makerspace will feature much of the same equipment as the Idea Realization Lab in the Loop, including laser cutters, CNC routers and a wood shop. Similar to the IRL, the LPC makerspace also will be a student-led operation. In addition to managing the lab’s schedule, student workers train other students how to use the equipment. A student advisory group will establish an official name for the new space as well. 

“The makerspace is a collaborative and supportive environment. Students make it that way,” says Theresa Steinbach, an associate dean in the College of Computing and Digital Media.  

One of the primary objectives of an academic makerspace is to build community, Margalus says. Inside the space, students share ideas and collaborate to build prototypes. Interdisciplinary learning also is a focus, and the second makerspace will offer expanded options for partnerships between academic programs. 

“We’re encouraging faculty to bring their classes in for the day to use the makerspace,” Margalus says. “By building a makerspace on the LPC, we can reach the larger university community.”
Faculty also have the opportunity to use the makerspaces for their research. Forming collaborations with local community partners, such as the Chicago Public Schools, is under consideration as well.
With support from the Academic Initiative Fund, the LPC makerspace embraces a culture of creativity and discovery, an objective of DePaul’s strategic plan.

For more information about DePaul’s makerspaces, contact Jay Margalus or visit http://irl.depaul.edu/​.