When Thad Kelling, marketing and public relations director for the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, outlined for me the mission of their big, new, copper-clad building on campus (1701 Student Life Way), I was understandably impressed. The ground floor of Lassonde Studios and its resources, he stressed, are open to all students on campus — not just those in residence.
Well sure. All campus buildings are, right? But what sets the Lassonde Studios apart is the makerspace — a whole wing of the first floor dedicated to “design, create and build [student] projects.” As I’ve always been drawn to big industrial tools, I was especially drawn to the shop. Through one expansive glass wall, students can see a good deal of new equipment in a room. There’s a floor-standing drill press, a quality table saw, a miter saw, hand tools, workbenches — each standing ready for any student who completes the appropriate safety training.
Students can access the space with their student IDs, and permission is granted once the safety training is complete. The training, which includes watching instructional videos on the Lassonde website, culminates in a 2-hour in-person event. Instructional videos demonstrate proper technique and the appropriate safety measures to take when working with various power equipment.
Kelling adds that these resources are unique because students are given priority to use the space, while teachers are prevented from monopolizing the equipment — a rarity on most campuses.
Students can also enjoy the Lassonde’s free coffee, collaboration space and lounge area — or just drop in the Miller Cafe for a quick bite. The building is open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, because sometimes you just need to decompress when bouncing back from a tough prototyping session.
Now young U of U inventors have a new place to start their dream projects. They have the tools and resources to get started — and they have collaboration opportunities with other students to help them perfect their work. All they need is an idea and the initiative to take the idea from their heads to the work bench. For those with projects languishing in notebooks from lack of resources, the Lassonde offers a new partnership, one that can help every student take their ideas to reality.