Innovation Lab Guests at the Innovation Lab Opening try out the virtual reality goggles.

Innovation Lab Gives Students an Edge in Technology

February 24, 2017

LIVONIA, Mich. – Students often get innovative when writing papers or completing class projects. Now there is a dedicated space at Madonna University for students to refine their ideas and apply their innovations to up-and-coming technology.

The Innovation Lab, in the Maertens Building, opened February 23. It houses three-dimensional (3-D) printers, virtual reality goggles, and other cutting-edge technology. “We’re trying to provide students with an experiential learning opportunity,” said Phillip Olla, Ph.D., Director for the Center for Research and professor of management information systems at Madonna. “We’re using it as a sandbox for experimenting with new technologies – a maker space, an innovation hub.”

Beginning this fall semester, the new Emerging Trends in Computer Technology and Applications class will use the Innovation Lab for class and assignments; the new class, designed for business majors, replaces a computing class. In addition to 3-D design and printing, students will be able to experiment with virtual reality, augmented reality, and designing infographics.

The Innovation Lab was funded by a generous grant from Bill Harahan, Director of the McManus Foundation, for the purpose of enhancing Madonna’s research community and 3-D printing lab.

Olla expects that eventually, the Innovation Lab will expand from the School of Business to the entire campus. The 3-D printer would be useful to students in several academic programs, e.g., forensic science students could design elements of a mock crime scene and chemistry scholars could create representations of molecules, etc. Eventually, Olla hopes to add brainstorming, prototyping, and even meeting with potential clients to the dedicated space for innovation and creativity.

The ability to work with more and more technology will be important to future business students and graduates as companies need useful ways to visualize, display and use data. “The skills students gain from working in the lab are transferable skills,” Olla explained. “This really does show that Madonna is an innovative University that does more than just lecturing. Experiential opportunities make learning interesting for students, and also help them in their careers.”

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