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College of Engineering Dean Peter Crouch addressing the audience at the i-Lab grand opening

The University of Hawaiʻi celebrated the grand opening of its new UH i-Lab (innovation lab) on Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

Inspired by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, also known as the D.School, the University of Hawaiʻi has created a lab based on those same principles of exposing students to experiences that get them involved with innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Our visit to Stanford’s famed D.School served as a tremendous source of inspiration for us to create something similar here for our students,” said Vassilis L. Syrmos, UH vice president for research and innovation. “We look forward to it becoming a vibrant hub on the UH Mānoa campus brimming with students and faculty working in collaboration to solve real-world problems with real-world innovative and entrepreneurial solutions.”

The i-Lab features floating whiteboards, chairs and tables that can be moved anywhere and most importantly, an absence of walls—all of which will help foster the free-flow of thought and sharing of ideas across multiple disciplines. The reconfigurable space is also equipped with rapid prototyping equipment like 3-D printers and laser cutters that allow students to turn design concepts into working models. The i-Lab is already being used for classes, workshops, lectures, and in the future, will play host to events like start-up weeks and innovation challenges.

“Many academic and nonacademic units as well as individuals within UH have pulled together magnificently to deliver the UH i-Lab,” said Peter Crouch, UH Mānoa College of Engineering dean who spearheaded the i-Lab effort. “The i-Lab will be the hub for activities that help students from all over the UH Mānoa campus and the wider community explore notions such as creativity, innovation and eventually entrepreneurship in interdisciplinary groups by grappling with a myriad of challenges and competitions.”

group of male students

UH Mānoa schools and colleges already participating in activities through the i-Lab, include the School of Architecture, College of Arts & Humanities, Shidler College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences and College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

“The i-Lab represents another facet of our aggressive and comprehensive efforts to develop and build a thriving innovation, research, education and training enterprise at UH,” said David Lassner, UH president. “By developing talented entrepreneurs from among our faculty and students and fortifying the innovation ecosystem at UH, we are playing a key role in Hawaiʻi’s efforts to diversify our economy, create high-quality jobs and build the foundation for new revenue sources through the Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative.”

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