Two students using the whiteboard walls in the AIMS Co-Lab

Our recently opened Co-Lab space is unique within higher education. In 2015, we took three separate rooms and replaced the walls between them with barn doors. All the walls were covered with whiteboard paint, and we added modular furniture. The Co-Lab also features a small library of books and resources as well as a kitchenette. The result is a collaboration space unlike any other on campus, one that is reminiscent of the spaces used by our top performing industry partners.

However, the space is only half the story. This collaborative lab enables us to offer more and more classes where collaboration is the centerpiece. Piloted in 2015 and rolled out in 2016, ETBD offers the Co-Lab Course, a unique course designed to enable students to work collaboratively on projects of their choosing while being coached and mentored directly by faculty and industry mentors. We believe this “mini” version of the hugely successful Armstrong Interactive Practicum Capstone (IMS 440) will allow sophomores and juniors to begin using their skills to collaborate on emerging technology to build portfolio pieces that will push the envelope of what’s possible.

During the pilot run of the course, students developed solutions as diverse as health tracking tools for students struggling with depression in collaboration with medical researchers, Apple Watch apps to help with crisis while flying, Arduino-powered physical interfaces and cinematic virtual reality tours of Cincinnati for the MLB’s All Star Game.

Also, being within the ETBD space, we are able to provide our students 24/7 keycard access to this space so they can collaborate more easily outside of scheduled class time.