Academic Tech Commons Welcomes SLU Innovators

11/14/2017

From its intentionally-designed furniture to 3D printers to Nao, the programmable robot, Saint Louis University's new Academic Technology Commons has opened as a space where the Billikens of today are learning on the future's technology.

Library associate Jonathan Harms (left) works with Nao, the programmable robot.Library associate Jonathan Harms (left) works with Nao, the programmable robot.

The new, 14,000 square-foot creator space in the Pius XII Memorial Library celebrated its grand opening on Tuesday, Nov. 14, with University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., University leaders, SLU students, faculty and staff members.

The new space includes 3D printers, 360 cameras, recording studios and hologram technology among its arsenal of innovative technologies. The ATC features modular seating as well as work areas to support individual or group work. Quick print and charging stations are now available and library users will have the option to check out tablets, cameras and laptops while also accessing video editing and creation software.

The ATC houses unique learning features to help Billikens make the most of the commons experience. These include SLU’s own Genius Bar, Ask SLU, the Collaboration Studio, the Idea Labs immersive creative studio space and Innovation Studio and the Quick Record Studio and Editing Pods.

“Out of  a collaborative effort comes this amazing space," University Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., told the crowd."I'm very excited to watch it evolve."

The project was a collaboration that included the University Libraries, Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Student Government Association (SGA). The first phase of the project was announced in May 2017. Over the next 5 years, $1.5 million garnered from existing student technology fees will fund part of the project’s costs and no future fees or tuition increases will be required to pay for the new commons. Student input, Tuesday's speakers said, was critical to the project's success.

"I was floored that a department would have such trust and faith in students," Andrew Budd, a junior and chair of the SGA's Facility and Service Committee, said. "This is shared governance put into practice."

The space was designed with innovation in mind and members of the task force designing the space traveled to academic libraries around the country to determine how SLU could best blend technology, learning and the traditional strengths of its academic libraries.

Two additional phases are planned for the ATC project, which include the creation of two new active learning classrooms, a flexible recording studio and small group study spaces.

“At this moment," Pestello told the crowd, "we celebrate this amazing space. This is the SLU of today and the SLU of tomorrow. This is the SLU of the future."

Demonstrations and opportunities to talk with the commons' staff followed a blessing by Christopher Collins, S.J., assistant to the president for mission and identity, that spoke of the SLU community's gratitude for the "ingenuity and creativity that have gone into this space."

Story by Danielle Lacey with additional reporting by Amelia Flood, University Marketing and Communications. Photos by Amelia Flood.


Saint Louis University is a world-class Catholic, Jesuit institution educating nearly 13,000 students on two dynamic, urban campuses - in St. Louis, Missouri, and Madrid, Spain. Founded in 1818, the University will soon celebrate its bicentennial.
 
With a legacy of innovative academics and research, compassionate health care and faithful service, Saint Louis University attracts a diverse community of scholars who push intellectual boundaries in pursuit of creative, meaningful ways to impact the world, striving to serve a higher purpose and seek a greater good.