Some of the most creative spaces on the Cal Poly Pomona campus, the Student Innovation Idea Labs (SIIL), are celebrating five years of existence in 2020, which also marks the tenth year that the adjoining ESTEAM program has provided students firsthand entrepreneurial experience.
Olukemi Sawyerr, Assistant VP of Academic Innovation, and Winny Dong, Faculty Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, helped establish the ESTEAM program and the SIIL, which oversees the iLab, Innovation Orchard, and Maker Studio.
“For the engineering students, I wanted them to think about how inventions become actual products,” Dong said of the ESTEAM program. “And perhaps Olukemi (Sawyerr) wanted the business students to have the experience of developing a prototype.”
ESTEAM students are placed into multidisciplinary teams and assigned the task of pinpointing a problem they deem worth solving. From there, they execute research, perform customer discovery, and build a prototype. Each teammate utilizes their area of expertise to contribute to a unique part of the process.
Throughout the process of ESTEAM, Sawyerr recognized the need for unrestricted use of free equipment and materials, such as 3D printers and worked to provide such resources for the CPP campus. In 2015, she established the iLab, a space with creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the heart of its mission, to provide the necessary tools for students to expand their projects and reach across campus.
With the resources the iLab continues to provide, including workshops about its equipment and events like IP Boot Camp that teaches participants how to protect intellectual property, a number of startups have sprouted from the space over the years, notably Pirüli Design, Quants Bakery, and AZUZA Beverage.
Time, evolution, and CPP recognition helped the iLab to grow into the SIIL, an Academic Innovation resource. The SIIL oversees the iLab, the Innovation Orchard, and the Maker Studio. Each location has a variety of tools that students can use for free. They are supportive spaces for students, faculty, and staff to experience discovery, education, and creativity. The CPP community is encouraged throughout the entire innovative process, including successes and failures, and are always welcome to drop by to learn about the spaces and the equipment available.
To celebrate these accomplishments, the SIIL is holding a week of activities to interact with new students, faculty, and staff as well as old friends. The procession is as follows:
March 2: Start Off Sweet
Location: iLab (98C 6-06)
Time: 12-2 p.m.
Event: An Innovation Orchard technician will lead a chocolate-casting workshop. Participants will be able to mold small pieces of chocolate into a pre-made shape and eat their creations afterward. Ice cream will be provided! Register here.
March 3: Totes N’ Doughs
Location: Maker Studio (2nd floor of the library behind the Knowledge Center)
Time: 12-2 p.m.
Event: The iLab’s Graphic Designer will provide a variety of precut stickers that students can heat-press onto a tote. Doughnuts will be available! Register here.
March 4: Soaring High
Location: Engineering Meadow (the expanse of grass near building 9 and 17)
Time: 12-2 p.m.
Event: Two Innovation Orchard technicians will oversee participants as they assemble cardboard planes and enter them into a competition. The winner will receive a prize, which will be announced at the event. Register here.
March 5: Celebratory Lunch and Bronco Makers Fair
Location: Ursa Major
Time: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Event: Join the campus community for a lunch celebrating the creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship of the SIIL spaces. Provost Sylvia Alva will be speaking. The Bronco Makers Fair will follow, with students, faculty, and staff showcasing their startup, invention(s), research, and more! Register here.
For those who want to show off their project, invention, or creation at the Bronco Makers Fair, they can sign up here.