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Thanks to funding provided by Baxter International Inc., the College of Lake County (CLC) will create the Baxter Innovation Lab, a space where students, teachers and industry professionals can design life-changing products, create and test prototypes and exchange their ideas with others around the globe.
“To help Illinois remain competitive in a global economy, Lake County needs a space where students, teachers, entrepreneurs and business people can develop their ideas for the next life-changing products,” said Rob Twardock, CLC engineering department chair and coordinator of the project. “The Baxter Innovation Lab also will allow innovators to collaborate and share ideas with others in a worldwide network.”
Twardock worked with the CLC Foundation, whose Executive Director Karen L. Schmidt was instrumental in helping secure the $175,000 funding to the CLC Foundation, which, in turn, grants the funds to CLC for the project.
“Baxter and the College of Lake County should be commended for their forward-thinking efforts to partner in the development of this engineering lab. Access to the most state-of-the-art tools and teaching methodologies will further enhance students’ ability to be relevant in the job market,” said CLC Foundation Board Chair Chris Piazzi.
The 1,875-square-foot lab in the Technology Wing at the Grayslake Campus will consist of two adjacent laboratories, one for design and digital fabrication, and one for more traditional shop work and construction. A basic version of the lab opened in fall 2016 to CLC students, using existing equipment.
The lab’s primary users will be CLC students in fields such as such as engineering, engineering technology, computerized numerical control, machine tool trades, computer aided design, the sciences, architecture, or even art, Twardock said.
“Innovation is at the core of Baxter’s mission to save and sustain lives,” said Stacey Eisen, senior vice president, communications, Baxter, and president, The Baxter International Foundation. “We are excited to be working with College of Lake County to establish the Baxter Innovation Lab to give future generations of innovators an inspirational new home to bring their ideas to life.”
The Baxter Innovation Lab will contain the latest engineering design software, such as AutoDesk Inventor, SolidWorks, Revit, software for coding, in addition to multiple 3D printers used in creating design prototypes. The lab also will feature an Epilog® and Universal laser cutters, a Roland® tabletop CNC milling machine and a 3D digital scanner and electronics workbenches. Other tools include material testing equipment, a vinyl printer/cutter and a vacuum former, which creates a product by heating a sheet of plastic and forcing it into a mold using vacuum pressure.
The construction portion of the Baxter Innovation Lab is designed to have the look and feel of a woodworking shop. Proposed equipment includes a CNC wood router, project workbenches with hand tools, as well as shop tools such as a drill press, band saw, mill, lathe, grinder, belt sander, drills and a chop saw.
In addition to serving CLC students, the lab will be open on a limited basis to inventors, small businesses or other groups. Middle and high-school students also will have access through CLC Explore classes, field trips and workshops.
Construction and renovation to the existing space will begin this fall, but the lab will continue to be open. It is expected to fully open in 2018.
CLC Board Chair Richard Anderson said, “This is an exciting opportunity for individuals, businesses and other organizations to inspire a new generation of Americans and support STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). We are so grateful for the generosity of Baxter for funding this project.”
The Baxter Innovation Lab will be the first public fab lab/makerspace in Lake County. It will be part of a United States Fab Lab Network, which is associated with the Fab Foundation and the Center for Bits and Atoms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since its beginning in 2001, about 1,000 fab labs have opened around the world, including 85 in the U.S. The network is an open, creative community of artists, scientists, engineers, educators, students, amateurs and professionals, from youth to senior citizens.
For more information, contact Twardock at email@example.com or (847) 543-2903; or visit Baxter Innovation Lab.
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