Idea Forge Will Foster a Hands­-On Learning Culture for Students

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Students can imagine, design, create and test products.
"Makerspaces" will encourage spontaneous interactions.
Reconfigurable spaces facilitate creative engineering.
A cross-disciplinary focus is key to the Idea Forge.

This spring, CU­-Boulder will re­ purpose approximately 22,000 square feet of the former law library in the Fleming Building to create the Idea Forge, a flexible, cross-discipli­nary collaborative space where stu­dents can create and test products and solutions to meet a range of societal and customer needs.

The Idea Forge, which will house a series of reconfigurable, intercon­nected "makerspaces," is slated to open in fall 2014. The space in­cludes Design Center Colorado and will support student teams working on invention and innovation as part of their course work, as well as design and development driven by entrepreneurial-­minded individuals and service-­oriented groups such as Engineers Without Borders.

The College of Engineering and Applied Science, with its rich history of design­-build and discovery-­based learning, is creating the Idea Forge to be an inspiring space for the engineering student population, which is expected to grow to more than 6,000 students in the next two to three years.

"One of the fundamentals for culti­vating a successful design program is an area that provides tools for ingenious design and fabrication. The Idea Forge will be that and more," says mechanical engineering senior Jeffrey Erhard.

The "Forge" will be designed to support interactions among a variety of students. The space and equip­ment will be open to students in all departments and programs in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, including the college’s resi­dential academic programs and the ATLAS Institute, as well as those enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, the new Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science program, and the new Pre­-Engineering Program. "The Boulder community does a great job with fostering new ideas, and a space like the Idea Forge will help students build, change, collab­orate and ultimately grow their ideas by providing the resources to further build upon a class or personal proj­ect," says mechanical engineering graduate student Eric Fauble.

Rapid prototyping, welding, and electronics shops plus advanced machining facilities will be included within a space that is open and to handle the needs of different projects over time.

"We are transferring innovative activi­ties from the formal classroom to an informal space, creating a hand-s­on student culture," says Scot Douglass, associate professor in the college’s Herbst Program of Humanities. This innovative learning space will pre­pare CU students to start new com­panies that will fuel the economy and workforce. The Idea Forge has opportunities for alumni and industry partners to get involved with senior projects and mentor students in design and development.

"We expect that our interactions with industrial and corporate part­ners will help us to develop critical expertise for innovation and employ­ment," says Daria Kotys-Schwartz, Design Center Colorado co-­director. "The programming will support unique workshops, guest lecturers and community events focused on providing skills and knowledge that are practical and valuable to employers."

The first phase of the project is ex­pected to cost approximately $2 million, and funding will come from the College of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as corporate and individual donors.

New Buildings Facilitate innovation and Learning

With the creation and development of new spaces for learning, research and innovation, the College of Engineering and Applied Science continues to educate global-minded engineers who shape society and deliver groundbreaking technologies.

Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory
The Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory (ITLL) is a state-of-the-art undergraduate design facility that was added to the Engineering Center in 1997. The ITLL provides 34,400 square feet where students can engage in hands-on design activities, including an open, airy plaza that facilitates interdisciplinary, team-based projects, along with manufacturing and electronics centers where students can create what they dream. Hewlett-Packard Company, one of the college's key industry sponsors, has called the ITLL "one of the finer teaching environments on the planet."
Discovery Learning Center
The Discovery Learning Center (DLC), which opened in 2002, offers 45,000 square feet of space to be used for research activities involving collaborative teams of students, faculty and industry partners. This technologically advanced center is home to 12 engineering research centers and is a focal point for a college-wide initiative promoting undergraduate involvement in research. The DLC is linked with pedestrian bridges to the ITLL and the rest of the Engineering Center.
Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building
The Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building on east campus is an interdisciplinary research and teaching facility that has put CU’s top talent in the fields of engineering, science and medicine under one roof. Opened in 2012, the building is the new home of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, which has seen explosive enrollment growth and is benefiting greatly from expanded, modern facilities and collaborations across disciplines. Featuring configurable lab spaces and state-of-the-art equipment, the 336,800 square-foot LEED Platinum certified building also houses the BioFrontiers Institute and the Division of Biochemistry.
The Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex
The Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex (SEEC), to be situated on East Campus, is designed to bring under one roof more than a dozen diverse programs and partners, drawing on top talent from CU-Boulder and neighboring federal laboratories. Slated for completion in 2015, SEEC will house 430,000 square feet of research labs, offices and teaching space. Nearly one-third of this space will be newly built wet labs, featuring a new generation of analytical instruments and synthesis capabilities not currently available elsewhere on CU’s campus. The remaining space, refurbished from an existing building, will be used for teaching, programs, conferences and community connections, as well as additional research labs.


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