Iowa State dedicates new Student Innovation Center

Iowa State University dedicated the new Student Innovation Center on campus. Video by Dave Olson

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University recently dedicated its new Student Innovation Center, a highly flexible, technology-rich campus hub for project-based learning, entrepreneurship and multidisciplinary collaboration. The facility provides space for students, faculty and staff to share ideas, experiment and create new products. 

“The Student Innovation Center establishes Iowa State University as the destination campus for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said ISU President Wendy Wintersteen. “Here, students, faculty and staff can create innovative products and collaborate with others to bring new ideas to the marketplace. I see the Student Innovation Center as a bright beacon for all of those innovators and entrepreneurs captivated by creativity, and yearning to bring their new ideas to life. This center will serve as the home base for every student who wants to experience our brand, Innovate at Iowa State.”

The Student Innovation Center was an $84 million project. A $30 million lead gift served as a catalyst for the project with more than $15 million in gifts that followed from corporations, alumni and friends of Iowa State as well as a $40 million investment from the state of Iowa.

Located on central campus, the facility offers four stories and a lower level that provide students with a variety of diverse spaces for collaborative learning and creating. Students will be able to pursue projects from start to finish, including planning, design, production, testing and marketing, and distribution. All six of Iowa State’s undergraduate colleges have designated spaces in the center.

The Student Innovation Center features:

  • A digital modeling and visualization lab
  • An industrial design lab
  • Electronics, textiles, and 3D printing shop
  • A media production suite
  • Auditorium and exhibit spaces
  • Outdoor areas, including a third-floor deck with garden area 
  • Several classrooms, including the campus’ only classroom-in-the-round.

It also has designated spaces for an entrepreneurship hub; Team PrISUm solar car; the Gaffer’s Guild glassblowers; and the STEM Scholars diversity enrichment program. It offers students top-of-the-line equipment for fabricating and assembling creations made from metal, wood, textiles and other materials. It has advanced audio/visual technology throughout the building, enabling content to be captured and quickly transmitted from one location to another.

Other highlights of the center include a Stepatorium in the main level atrium, which incorporates gathering areas along the stairway; SPARKS, a student-run café; Innovate 1858, a student-run retail outlet that features merchandise created by students; an architectural robotics lab where student can create different building materials; and a Culinary Creation Lab with a fully-equipped kitchen.

The Student Innovation Center offers students the experience to work in immersive production processes, and develop skills, such as interdisciplinary teamwork and creative problem-solving, to prepare them for their future careers.   

“The Student Innovation Center is driven by our students’ dreams. It will provide them the space, tools and inspiration to pursue new ideas that could change the world,” said Jim Oliver, director of the Student Innovation Center and University Professor, and Pithan Director of Innovation. “The impact on teaching, research, economic development and community outreach will be amazing. Most importantly, it will give our students a competitive edge as they enter the workforce.”