The future is now on St. Petersburg College’s Seminole Campus.
The recent opening of the Innovation Lab in the library at the campus drew more than 100 people, including a who’s who of college, community and tech leaders.
Creative learning environments like the lab, often called makerspaces, are growing in popularity. In SPC’s lab, instructors, students and library card holders can use the latest technology tools, including a 3D printer, Cublets KT06 modular robots and the Korg littleBits circuits in seconds kit. With the Monolith 3D printer, made locally by Free Fab 3D, users can create virtually any object through a wide variety of computer programs. In fact, much of the printer itself was created on a 3D printer.
The Cubelets modular robotics kit lets users build surprisingly complex robots out of simple parts that fit together like building blocks. The Korg littleBits kit is a do-it-yourself synthesizer used to compose original electronic music in mere seconds.
The lab also includes an iMac and a desktop running Ubuntu Linux, giving users a taste of different operating systems and the programs they offer, such as Apple’s newly released Swift programming language.
One of the computers in the lab is dedicated to podcasting and audio experiments, and has a professional grade microphone and mixer. All of this was made possible by SPC librarian Chad Mairn’s vision, a $3,500 college innovation grant and help from Seminole Campus Provost Jim Olliver.
Guests at the morning and evening grand opening parties included SPC President Bill Law, Seminole Vice Mayor Thomas Barnhorn, Seminole City Council member Patricia Plantamura, and Lance Eppley and Fri Rider, the designers of the Monolith 3D printer. Mo Eppley of the St. Pete Makers, also attended. St. Pete Makers is a non-profit group seeking to bring a high-tech makerspace to St. Petersburg.
The innovators demonstrated what the lab’s 3D printer was capable of, showing off many complex designs that were created on the Monolith such as a bearing printed as a single piece. Most importantly, members of the community – young and old – filled the lab and spilled out into the hall during the grand opening parties.
One guest, a 12-year-old Android app developer, volunteered to teach a workshop on mobile development. Mairn was quick to accept and noted that the lab will host a wide variety of workshops and guest speakers. Among them will be the creator of a makerspace in Taiwan who will connect with guests via teleconference on the lab’s smart TV and webcam.
The lab will host its first workshop on June 12, 10 a.m. – noon, on how to create a LibraryBox, a palm-sized computer designed to serve files in areas with no Internet access. The workshop is free and open to the public.
Check out our Facebook gallery of the Innovation Lab opening. Read coverage of the Innovation Lab in, the Tampa Tribune, TMCnet.com and 83degreesmedia.com.
SPC student Chris Demmons, who writes for SPC’s student newspaper, Sandbox News, provided this report. Read his story in Sandbox News.