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Creativity shines at Baker Institute event, Innovation Loft gets new digs in ‘FML 2.0’

one button studio TRAC fellows

On Oct. 25, nearly 300 students, alumni, faculty, and staff gathered at E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library for CREATIVATE, an annual Baker Institute program celebrating student creativity, innovation, and the entrepreneurial spirit.

Bruce Taggart, Vice Provost for Library and Technology Services (LTS), joined Institute Executive Director Lisa Getzler in welcoming guests to the 3rd annual event, where more than 60 students showcased their projects, developed as part of independent study or Institute programs such as LehighSiliconValley, LaunchBayC, and the EUREKA! Ventures Competition Series.

With over twenty projects on exhibit, students explained their work to guests, sharing their inspiration, motivation, and goals, along with challenges they overcame.

‘It’s not about stacks. It’s about students.’

The event also marked the opening of the Baker Innovation Loft, a creative work space on the library’s sixth floor, where aspiring entrepreneurs can gather to brainstorm, collaborate on projects, and solve problems in an environment that fosters discovery and exploration.

Taggart told guests that events like CREATIVATE are part of the vision for “the new library” at Lehigh. “It’s not about stacks. It’s about students. It’s not about print. It’s about access to information,” he said. Taggart described how Lehigh’s libraries are becoming hubs for “collaboration, creativity, and innovation,” and calls the loft a cornerstone of interdisciplinary connectivity.

That kind of connectivity is already playing out at Wilbur [Powerhouse] and with programs like the Mountaintop Initiative, led by newly-appointed vice provost of creative inquiry, Khanjan Mehta, says Taggart. With the Visualization Lab and the One Button Studio, both spaces in the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL), he adds, “the library becomes synergistic.”

One group at CREATIVATE already taking advantage of library creative space began their project last year as part of a collaboration between the TRAC Writing Fellows Program and chemistry Professor Suzanne Fernandez. Omar Ahmed ‘19 and teammates Nadine Elsayed ‘18 and Tim LaRowe ‘19 use the One Button Studio to help Professor Fernandez’s CHEM 110 students create video tutorials to teach organic chemistry concepts to their peers, while Fernandez studies the effectiveness of peer learning.

“This project gives students the opportunity to teach their peers a concept they have mastered in the hope that the other students will understand it as well after watching their videos,” said Ahmed, a physics and computer science major. “We believe this project has extreme potential to help boost peer learning across campus. As a student, I can attest to the fact that I learn the most when it's my peer teaching.”

The team is on track to produce about 200 student-made tutorials this semester.

FML 2.0

This summer, LTS redesigned and renovated the 6th floor south of the Fairchild-Martindale Library -- known colloquially as FML -- to include additional seating, portable whiteboards, and upgrades to table lighting and power outlets, setting the stage for more collaborative and flexible group-focused activities.

These enhancements, along with providing a new home for the Innovation Loft, help to fulfill the vision for what Taggart calls “FML 2.0.” He says “There will be 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0. This is just the start. What you’re seeing today is the energy that's driving some of the changes. Students need spaces like this.”

Getzler thanked the Baker family and foundation trustees in attendance for their generosity and being “the very soul” of the Institute. “We truly believe that entrepreneurialism is seeded by innovation, which is fed by creativity,” she said. “That is the journey that we send students on when they want to proceed as entrepreneurial thinkers with a bias toward action.”

Students interested in the Baker Institute’s programming and opportunities are encouraged to stop by the Innovation Loft, EWFM Library, Room 628, or attend one of the “Casual Chats,” hosted by Chris Kauzmann, Innovation Programs Manager, Wednesdays from Noon-3:00p.m.