RCGC’s new InnovationStudio brings forth student creativity

Student Government Association president Michael Beckford, of Williamstown, utilized the new makerspace to promote and raise funds for the SGA.

RCGC students Alexis Valentine, of Sicklerville, and Michael Beckford, of Williamstown, create buttons during the College’s InnovationStudio ribbon-cutting event on March 27. Valentine and Beckford, both members of the Student Government Association, use the new makerspace to produce posters, buttons and other materials for the organization. Photo: Andrea Stanton, special to The Sun.

Rowan College at Gloucester County and the Gloucester County Library System’s new InnovationStudio is all about bringing creative ideas to life.

The shared makerspace, located in the RCGC’S Learning Commons building, offers RCGC students, employees and members of the Gloucester County community access to cutting-edge technology and the opportunity to explore innovative concepts. A collaborative learning space, the InnovationStudio fosters imagination in students of all ages, provides exposure to new technologies and encourages community-based discovery and entrepreneurship in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Open Monday through Thursday, the InnovationStudio is operated by the Gloucester County Library System and offers scheduled programs and free training on equipment and tools.

“This library is now more like the workspace of the future. If there is one place an InnovationStudio should exist, it is on the campus of a higher-learning institution,” Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger said. “I applaud the Gloucester County Library System and Rowan College at Gloucester County for creating a partnership that will benefit the students and faculty in their innovation and creativity.”

Michael Beckford, of Williamstown, is an exercise science major at RCGC and the president of the college’s Student Government Association. Beckford and other SGA members have used the makerspace to help promote and raise funds for the club, creating buttons to cheer on the Eagles during the Super Bowl and posters to advertise an upcoming mixer.

“The equipment is user friendly and available for the students to use. It makes it easier and costs less because student clubs and organizations on campus can use the InnovationStudio for free,” Beckford said. “It helps to bring the community to the school and promotes creativity.”

“The staff is also very welcoming here,” criminal justice major Alexis Valentine said. “I am planning to get certified to use the laser cutter and engraver.”

Valentine, a SGA senator, sees a wealth of possibilities in the InnovationStudio’s future — ideas ranging from classroom assignments and assistance with tutoring, to helping medical students create artificial body parts to see how they function.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to partner with the Gloucester County Library System in the creation of this makerspace. The InnovationStudio enhances the quality of education for our students,” RCGC President Frederick Keating said. “Once again, this is another example of how this county operates. We do what is in the best interest of students and residents of this county by making these spaces available.”

“Adding this InnovationStudio to RCGC makes perfect sense. The partnership between our Gloucester County Library System and Rowan College at Gloucester County is a seamless fit,” Freeholder Lyman Barnes, who serves as the Freeholder Liaison to the Department of Education and the Gloucester County Library System, said. “The Gloucester County Library System has proven again and again that libraries are the ideal place for makerspace studios. I expect that big ideas are going to come out of this studio and that it will be extremely popular on campus.”

On Tuesday, March 27, at Rowan College at Gloucester County, the Gloucester County Library System and Gloucester County officials celebrated the official opening of the College’s InnovationStudio. Located in the College’s Learning Commons building, the public makerspace provides RCGC students, faculty and members of the community access to cutting-edge technology and the opportunity to explore creative ideas. Photo: Andrea Stanton, special to The Sun.

Freeholder Heather Simmons explained how special applications are already in use at the Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University. “The leading research paleontologist at Rowan University is a world-renown expert in 3D printing and uses it to create missing pieces and tell the story from 65 million years ago,” Simmons said. “Innovation and entrepreneurship are just two reasons why this space will work.”

Housed within the college’s makerspace are a laser cutter and engraver, 3D printer, virtual reality headset, silhouette cameo paper and vinyl cutting machine, large format printer, button-making machine, podcast-recording equipment and microcontrollers. Free training and workshops are advertised on the Gloucester County Library System’s website at gcls.org/make/innovationstudio or by calling (856) 803–5097.

“Establishing a makerspace at RCGC supports the County Library System’s mission to provide welcoming community spaces for people gathered to learn, create and have fun, and it supports the mission of RCGC as a center for learning,” Gloucester County Library System Director Anne Wodnick said.

“This partnership supports the college’s continuing efforts to provide our students, faculty and community with educational and creative learning opportunities and provide access for all to experience technical and creative activities,” Vice President of Academic Services Dr. Linda Hurlburt said.

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