With the 3D printers whirring in the background, more than 100 people circled through the MIX Lab during its grand opening on Feb. 18 at Montclair State University.
“I’m just blown away at the creativity you see in here,” said Debbie Coull, business manager of Information Technology, who took a tour of MIX Lab at the grand opening. “The potential is there to expand in so many different ways.”
MIX Lab has thirty-five 3D printing devices. It is part of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and is housed in the Feliciano School of Business, but is a resource for the entire university.
MIX stands for Making and Innovating for X (or the unknown). “This is a lab where students come to solve problems,” said Dennis Bone, director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship. “We have to come up with new ways to look at the world, to make changes, to come up with innovative ideas. That’s what innovation is all about.”
The co-directors of MIX Lab are Profs. Iain Kerr and Jason Frasca, who set up the lab when the 3D printers arrived in August and have been training students on 3D printing and design thinking ever since.
Vice President for IT Candy Fleming helped put together the MIX Lab and had been inside it previously, but said she had not seen the lab equipped with all the printers until Feb. 18. “It’s the new world,” said Fleming. “It’s phenomenal, actually.”
Matt Gallup, the university’s emergency preparedness coordinator, also took a tour and said the MIX Lab is “bringing the future to the present.”
Agatha Jeffers, an accounting professor, said after seeing the lab, “It’s remarkable what can be done—that it could be used in so many areas.”
The majors of the students taking tours of MIX Lab during the grand opening represented every college/school on campus. That diversity is similar to the rich mix of majors that have taken ENTR 290-02 “Introduction to 3D Printing and Design.” Of the 19 students who took the intro 3D printing course in fall 2015, their majors were: Biochemistry, German, Jurisprudence Law and Society, Finance, Art History (2), Spanish Translation, Psychology (2), Marketing (2), Information Technology, Political Science, Economics, Fine Arts Studio and four undeclared.
Dean of Library Services Judith Lin Hunt called MIX Lab “fantastic,” and was quite interested in the diversity of majors that have taken the 3D printing class. “That, I think, is where the key is—to bring disparate majors together, because you bring their minds together.”
The MIX Lab grand opening included a random drawing for a 3D printed lamp that was displayed in the lab. The winner was Tashanda Rayne, a freshman Biochemistry major.
The students connected to the MIX Lab, who served as tour guides on Feb. 18, were especially excited that the grand opening had arrived. For weeks, they had been helping to decorate the lab and 3D print items.
“It feels special to be part of something up-and-coming. You’re not catching the end of it, but the beginning,” said Vinny Monaco, a sophomore majoring in Finance.
Brian Martin, a senior Political Science major who is in the second 3D certificate course “Applied 3D Design and Lean Fabrication,” was one of the students available to answer visitors’ questions about MIX Lab. “I’m glad that people are coming and asking questions. Seeing people from all different majors stop by and express interest in it, it’s good to see people want to learn about it and when they do, you see they are awestruck, as I am,” said Martin.
Kaitlyn Texel, a junior Animation & Illustration major, signed up for the intro 3D printing course after working in 3D modeling on her own but then deciding she wanted to be able to print the items. She enjoys “being able to see one of your creations, or someone else’s creation, in real life.”
Altarik Banks, who is also in “Applied 3D Design and Lean Fabrication,” had been busy designing and 3D printing a stool that was raffled off to an attendee at the grand opening event, “3D Printing Changes Everything,” held the evening of Feb. 18. The stool was won by Samantha Morra, who had the most tweets during the event using the hash tag “MIXinnovates.”
“Even though today was an official opening, it’s always been open. People have tons of questions,” said Banks, a junior Economics major, about the newcomers visiting the lab. “I never knew I’d be an entrepreneurship student moving into design,” added Banks, who has already obtained the Feliciano Center’s Certificate of Entrepreneurship.
Despite an onslaught of campus emails about the grand opening, other students had not heard about MIX Lab until the day of the tours. Joseph Williams found out about MIX Lab when he saw a staff member carrying balloons across campus for the event. The senior Public Health major was impressed when he came to the lab. “It’s absolutely magnificent. This is one step away from changing the world. So many possibilities,” said Williams, who was especially interested in health aspects of 3D printing, given his major.
The grand opening also attracted people from off campus, including a large contingent from the Feliciano Center’s Montclair Entrepreneurs Meetup, who came early to tour the MIX Lab before the evening panel discussion. Alumni were also present, including Erik Eklund, a 2008 grad and business major. Eklund marveled at the different types of printers in the lab. “You have several different technologies here.”
Even professors from other universities showed up. Mukesh Patel, the founder and CEO of JuiceTank is also director of innovation at Honors College at Rutgers University. “MIX Lab is kind of a tipping point of where creative innovation meets entrepreneurship students, which turns entrepreneurs into creators and makers.”
Patel, who is also a Rutgers adjunct, told his students he was taking a road trip to Montclair State to see the MIX Lab, extending an invitation to anyone who wanted to go. Andrew Zhang, a senior studying supply chain management, was one of the Rutgers students who said yes. He was impressed with what he saw at MIX Lab.
“I’m like a kid at a playground right now,” Zhang said while visiting MIX Lab.
After the tours, which were held 1-5 p.m., the event “3D Printing Changes Everything,” was held in the university’s conference center. The panel of experts discussing the latest in 3D printing were: Michael Rees, director of the Center for New Art at William Paterson University; Ben Reytblat, founder and CEO of 3DMonstr; Natalie Rodriguez, MIX Lab Design Entrepreneur in Residence; and Mina Zarfsaz, designer and conceptual artist. The panel’s moderator was Kerr, while Frasca and Bone delivered welcome remarks.
Media coverage of MIX Lab:
“New 3D Printing Lab at Montclair State University Offers Students Lessons in Innovation” by Bergen Record
“Montclair State University’s 3D Printing Lab Is Already Underway” by The Montclair Times
“After MIX Lab Dedication, Future of 3D Printing Discussed at Montclair State’s Feliciano Center” by NJ Tech Weekly
“The Frontier of 3D Printing Comes to Montclair State” by The Montclarion
“MSU Hosts 3D Printing Lecture and Other Programs for the Community” by Passaic Valley Today
“Montclair State University Opens MIX Lab with 35 MakerBot 3D Print Devices on Campus” by 3Dprint.com