By Jordan Unger
Students from different colleges at Youngstown State University combine their skills to assist clients with creative projects and innovative ideas.
The Launch Lab, located in the Williamson College of Business Administration, fosters the collaboration of students from the business college, the College of Creative Arts and Communication and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Ten lab assistants work in the Launch Lab. John Bordell, YSU graduate student and coordinator of the Launch Lab, said the students in the lab use manufacturing equipment such as 3-D printers, 3-D scanners and modeling software to complete tasks requested of them.
“Students working in the lab are collaborating with other students, and possibly community members and other businesses in the area, to try to help them solve whatever problems they can and use our resources’ capabilities to accomplish that,” John Bordell said.
John Bordell said the assistants’ diverse backgrounds contribute to the Launch Lab. He said an example of this would be if a student approached them with an idea for a new pen design.
“They come in, an engineering student would help them design the part in CAD software,” John Bordell said. “An art student would help them with the aesthetic design of the pen to make it more ergonomical and then the business student would help them facilitate the marketing.”
Wim Steelant, the dean of STEM, said the Launch Lab is a great way for students to get hands-on experience and learn from each other’s skills.
“The more you know and the more diverse your degree is, the better you’re prepared for a job skill,” Steelant said.
Brittany Bordell, YSU business student and lab assistant, said Launch Lab teaches her things she never expected to learn in her major.
“Working with students of all different areas of study has been a really special thing,” Brittany Bordell said. “We all get to learn a little bit of what we’re creating and get to share our knowledge from our field.”
The Launch Lab team is contacted by various businesses in the area who need help with projects. John Bordell said he was approached by an extrusions company who needed to test a part’s capabilities before investing in the extrusion.
“It would’ve cost him quite a bit of money to have a company make a prototype of it,” John Bordell said. “So we were able to really quickly 3-D print it, and then he could see that it worked and have confidence in getting the extrusion actually made.”
Two students from the lab are currently working with the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor to 3-D print parts to replace models in the museum that are falling apart. John Bordell said some of the projects will be as large as 15 to 20 parts that need printed and assembled.
“We’re pushing forward with it, and I think it’s going to be a really cool project,” John Bordell said.
The team is working on a contract to prevent competition with businesses in the area, one of the challenges that Launch Lab is trying to eliminate.
“We can’t take business away from them,” John Bordell said. “We are trying to figure out exactly where we need to align this lab to whatever legal constraints of the university.”
The Launch Lab is a first step toward the Innovation Center that is in the works at YSU. As for the lab itself, John Bordell hopes it will continue to promote the blending of majors and become incorporated into curriculums.
“The schools are like silos, and people stick to their own,”John Bordell said. “Involving the educational process, an important aspect of that is getting people working together.”
Lab assistance is available to all YSU students and faculty who have creative projects in the works and need access to equipment.