Currently under construction at RIT is the Innovation Center, set to open in May 2009. At 10,000 square feet, the building will have a circular, largely glass design to intentionally contrast with the typical RIT brick building. But its design as a place of multidisciplinary cooperation is what will really set the center apart from the rest of campus.
The center will be divided into several areas. The first will be a lounge area that will “recognize and celebrate successful entrepreneurs coming out of RIT,” said Dr. James H. Watters, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration. There will also be rooms for formal faculty meetings. Some rooms will contain conference tables and have access to programs like Power Point so that students who need to present projects can have a place to practice.
The main body will serve as a workspace for students. These areas will have movable workstations and furnishings. This design will allow groups of students to set up their work area in any way they need to for their project. There will also be grid structures overhead so that portable lighting and projectors can be set up where necessary.
The total number of students all of these spaces can accommodate and the total duration students can occupy these spaces are issues that are currently being worked on. Security for student projects is also being discussed.
There will also be areas for light manufacturing and assembly. These places will be specifically for students to build prototypes and other similar projects.
“We’re not trying to replicate the more intense labs,” said Watters, adding that this is an important distinction. “This space is meant to complement what’s on campus, not replicate what’s already there.”
Watters noted that the Innovation Center will serve as a starting ground for students who might wish to set up their own business. “RIT will actually help [the students] take [their business] from that concept to prototype to actually building a business,” said Watters. He stated that “it’s possible that the university will provide the seed funds” for those businesses.
The Innovation Center will be a place for students. According to Watters, it will be where like-minded students can meet and work together. Once there, they can either work on class assignments, or take their own ideas and run with them.