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By Aaliyah M.E. Murillo, Feb. 15, 2022

After more than a year since renovations began in 2020, Cal Poly Pomona’s iLab will relocate to Building 1 and is expected to open mid-March as it expands its space with funding from the university.

The newly designed iLab will include a laptop station and social lounge. Originally planned for two single-occupancy offices, it will instead incorporate virtual reality spaces for students to enjoy.

Jesus Bermudez, administrative coordinator of Student Innovation Idea Lab, or SIIL, intended to move his office into Building 1, but decided to keep it in the Maker Studio, located in the University Library, to allocate more space for resources.

“We decided to turn that into a VR space,” said Bermudez. “Giving the students more access to use what was going to be my office into a VR space. It’s actually much better, more resources for students.”

South-facing perspective of iLab created by ‘HGA Architects’. (Courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona’s SIIL)
North-facing perspective of iLab created by ‘HGA Architects’. (Courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona’s SIIL)

Kenneth Lamb, faculty director of the SIIL, explained that renovating the iLab is the first step at expanding the SIIL, a subdivision of the Office of Academic Innovation. According to the SIIL, renovations cost roughly $600,000. The team is planning to expand the program even further with the leftover funding.

Lamb explained, “It all depends on how much money we have left over, and then we could spend it on (new equipment).”

The SIIL is divided into into three departments: the iLab, Innovation Orchard and Maker Studio.

In 2015, when the iLab was first founded, it was in a “very tight” space in Building 98, the CLA, according to Bermudez.

At the time, Professor Olukemi Sawyerr of the College of Business Administration, who now serves as associate vice president of Academic Innovation, and Professor Winny Dong, College of Engineering, taught a joint class for ­business and engineering students. However, according to Sawyerr in a 2015 interview with PolyCentric, one-third of students were turned away from the course because of space constraints.

This led to then University President Michael Ortiz approving an expansion of the class into a permanent space and appointing Sawyerr as the founding faculty director of the SIIL.

While the iLab is under renovations, the Innovation Orchard is closed until further notice, leaving the Maker Studio open for students to use. The Maker Studio is location in the University Library’s second floor and is home to CPP’s 3D printing machines.

Students gather around the new sewing workshop at the Maker Studio (Courtesy of Rhys Rygg)

Rhys Rygg, worker at SIIL’s Maker Studio said, “The 3D printing is the one of our most popular workshops, and every student who goes through the training has 30 hours of free 3D printing each semester, through us.”

Rygg noted that the training is free. Lamb added students have access to Fusion 360 and Adobe Creative and all they need is their @edu email to use the programs.

The iLab will be closer to the Maker Studio, only a one-minute walk, compared to its the previous location in the CLA, about a four-minute walk.

“We’re simply moving one of our locations to a lot closer to the rest of the school so that people could have more access to it,” said Rygg. “Plus, we are going to have a lot more space for equipment there.”

Once light fixtures are finalized for the iLab, the space will open and be available for all students to use.

“I’m excited to have the space back,” said Rygg. “In addition, the Maker Studio recently expanded as well. So (the organization is) getting larger and I appreciate that quite a bit because it is such a good resource for students.”

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