Innovation at Colorado College reopened in a new location on campus at the beginning of the school year. Last Thursday, they held a Launch Party and invited students, faculty, and staff to interact with the new space. Staff members of the Innovation program were available for questions, and attendees enjoyed food and snacks while they took tours and explored what Innovation at CC has to offer.
Over the summer, several students and staff worked to transform the building at 232 E. Cache la Poudre, which used to be a dentist’s office, into the Innovation at CC space. The building features two floors of space for use. The main level has an open design and is full of movable furniture and supplies that students can use for a variety of creative projects. The lower level has more technology to create projects, such as a laser cutter. “We are making the space as student-friendly as possible,” said Landis Hackett ’19, who works in the Innovation at CC building.
The flexibility of the Innovation space is completely intentional and is designed to cater to as many needs as possible. Innovation at CC encourages students to utilize the space to work on their ideas and helps with wherever they are in the creative process.
“It is a cross-disciplinary, creative space,” Innovation Program Coordinator Cyndy Hines said. “We take a cooperative approach and hope to integrate into curriculums.”
For example, Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry Eli Fahrenkrug recently visited Innovation and used the laser cutter to build a prototype of a model he was working on in class. The laser cutter can engrave an object or cut out pieces of material.
Dez Stone Menendez ’00 has been the Director of Innovation at CC since September 2016. She wants to help students regain the creativity that some feel they have lost as they grow older.
“We are piloting a lot of new programming,” Menendez said. “Our main learning outcome is creative confidence, which is really about stepping into the unknown and trusting oneself.”
Menendez is focused on making innovation accessible to all. She emphasizes that innovation should not just connect with entrepreneurship because anything can be innovated. She was excited that this year’s Big Idea Competition featured three female teams in the finals and that the final projects were not all solely focused on technological projects.
“Innovation is a moving target,” Menendez said. “Process comes before product, and it requires comfort with navigating ambiguity.”
There is always more to build upon with Innovation at CC. Moving forward, Hackett hopes to implement collaborative events and speakers into programming. He is hopeful for a partnership with the Colorado Springs Food Rescue and would also like to begin some cooking classes on various topics, including bringing in a gluten-free and vegan chef to teach. More ideas are also being considered.
Innovation at CC intends to be driven by students and modified to their needs and the work that they are doing.
“Students have free, 24-hour access to the space,” Hackett said. “Everyone needs to be trained but can then use the laser cutter.”
Menendez has open office hours every Wednesday from 1-3 p.m. and encourages students to come and talk about anything, including new ideas that they have.
“Anything can be innovated,” Hines said. “We are open to all ideas.”