CATalyst Studios, located on the first floor of the Main Library, offers a variety of programming and services for students from all different fields and interests.
There is a Maker Studio, a Virtual Reality Studio, a Data Studio and a Media Recording Studio, all of which present students with unique opportunities to practice with equipment and programs they might not otherwise have access to.
In the Maker Studio, students are able to use tools like 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters, sewing machines, soldering irons, microprocessors and more. The VR studio includes high quality VR headsets, 3D software, a media 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 display presentations and workshops.
CATalyst Studios initially opened in January 2020, as the first part of the Student Success District. Unfortunately, the studio was forced to close its doors about seven weeks later, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, after re-opening its doors, CATalyst Studios has seen a good amount of engagement from students across all disciplines.
“We have students from all over the university from all different disciplines come in … . We have faculty and instructors who reach out to us and say they want to integrate some of the things we have here within their class,” said Jennifer Nichols, associate librarian and director of CATalyst Studios.
“So we've had, you know, engineering classes. We've had art classes, different schools, information classes, education, theater, math," Nichols said. "We have all sorts of different disciplines coming in to use the space, and our hope is that we can work with instructors to think about new ways of demonstrating knowledge and ways that this space can support whatever their learning objectives are for their course.”
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The learning experiences that CATalyst Studios provides for students extends far beyond the classroom. The studios offer different programming, classes and even internship opportunities. According to Nichols, CATalyst Studios signed on five student interns this semester and will continue the internship program in the upcoming fall semester as well.
With the diverse array of services provided, the faculty in charge of CATalyst Studios rely on multiple methods of spreading the word to students about different opportunities for learning and engagement.
“The space is almost entirely student run. I have 12 student workers and five interns, and so we reach out through the students' friends on social media. We've been building momentum with that. We have a really active Discord server,” Nichols said. “Also, everyone who comes in this space, we encourage them to sign up, and that's been a really great way to get the word out about things that are happening. I'd say those are the main ways right now, but in the future [we're] really thinking about doing outreach to all the advisors.”
With regards to looking towards the future, Nichols and the rest of the CATalyst team hope to expand programming and services provided to students.
“I really think the future for us in the next year is growing our partnerships and programming, and just having a place where people can be creative and build their skills. And it's not necessarily because I am or my staff are teaching them but maybe other people in the community we'll bring in,” Nichols said.
Overall, the goal of CATalyst studios, as expressed by Nichols, is to foster an environment of learning and inclusion that makes all students feel welcome and engaged.
“We just really want everyone to feel welcome … . You don't have to know how to do anything in order to come into the space … . So we work really hard to be as welcoming as we can and make it not feel like this. It’s creative space for everyone and … you're really welcome to come in and learn alongside everyone,” Nichols said.
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