CATalyst Studios, located on the first floor of the Main Library, offers a variety of programs and services for students of all backgrounds and interests.
There is a Maker Studio, Virtual Reality Studio, Data Studio, and Media Recording Studio, all of which provide unique opportunities for students to practice with equipment and programs they might not otherwise have access to.
In the Maker Studio, students can use tools such as 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters, sewing machines, soldering irons, microprocessors, and more. The VR studio includes high-quality VR headsets, 3D software, a multimedia recording studio, and a green screen room, among other resources. In addition to these services, the Data Studio contains a high-definition video wall where users can view presentations and workshops.
CATalyst Studios opened in January 2020, as the first part of the Student Success District. Unfortunately, the studio was forced to shut down approximately seven weeks later, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, after reopening, CATalyst Studios has seen good engagement from students across all disciplines.
“We have students from all over the university from all disciplines coming…. We have professors and instructors reaching out to us and saying they want to incorporate some of the things we have here into their classroom,” said Jennifer Nichols, associate librarian and director of CATalyst Studios.
“So we had, you know, engineering classes. We had art classes, different schools, information classes, education, drama, math,” Nichols said. “We have all kinds of different disciplines coming to use the space, and we’re hoping we can work with instructors to think about new ways to demonstrate knowledge and ways this space can support whatever their training goals are.” learning for their course.
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The learning experiences that CATalyst Studios offers students extend far beyond the classroom. The studios offer different programming, courses and even internship opportunities. According to Nichols, CATalyst Studios has hired five student interns this semester and will also continue the internship program next fall semester.
With the diversity of services provided, the faculty in charge of CATalyst Studios relies on multiple methods to introduce students to the various opportunities for learning and engagement.
“The space is almost entirely student-run. I have 12 working students and five interns, so we reach out to students’ friends on social media. We created momentum with that. We have a very active Discord server,” Nichols said. “Also, everyone who comes to this space, we encourage them to sign up, and that’s been a really good way to get the word out about things that are happening. I would say those are the main ways in this moment, but in the future [we’re] really think about raising awareness with all advisors.
Looking to the future, Nichols and the rest of the CATalyst team hope to expand the programs and services offered to students.
“I really think the future for us over the next year is to grow our partnerships and our programming, and just have a place where people can be creative and develop their skills. And that’s not necessarily because that I am or my staff teaches them, but maybe other people from the community that we bring in,” Nichols said.
Overall, the goal of CATalyst Studios, as expressed by Nichols, is to foster a learning and inclusive environment that makes all students feel welcome and engaged.
“We really want everyone to feel welcome…. You don’t need to know anything to enter space…. So we work really hard to be as welcoming as possible and make sure it’s not like that. It’s a creative space for everyone and…you’re really welcome to come and learn alongside everyone,” Nichols said.
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