Tabor students invent Innovative Solutions

Local Makerspace and Millikin Center for Entrepreneurship partner up to teach product development

Local Makerspace and Millikin Center for Entrepreneurship partner up to teach product development

How can students conquer procrastination? How can a strip of fabric organize cables and style hair? How can a person get all the peanut butter out of a jar without mess or waste? These are the types of problems being solved by Millikin University's Tabor School of Business students in the Innovation Lab class taught by Dr. Jane Hua, assistant professor of entrepreneurship.

Through a partnership between downtown Decatur's Thinkwell Makerspace Industries and Millikin's Center for Entrepreneurship, these students are learning about the entire process of how to create a product for consumers. From brainstorming a product idea and designing prototypes to actually fabricating their inventions, gathering customer feedback and studying market trends, Innovation Lab students are getting a close-up view of an important and often overlooked area of entrepreneurship.

Innovation Lab Millikin University

"This class is for those who want to start a business because they have an invention," Dr. Hua explained. She emphasized that the Innovation Lab was a crucial component of Millikin's hands-on approach to education, Performance Learning. While Dr. Hua handles the classroom lectures and discussions for the class, the hands-on portion of Innovation Lab is overseen by Jesse Blunt, president and CEO of Thinkwell Makerspace Industries in their downtown Makerspace location.

"A makerspace is an open-source, open-plan workspace, and the goal is to give people access to tools and technology," Blunt explained.

Innovation Lab students have access to the rapid prototyping technology inside the space, including computer-aided design (CAD) software and 3D printers, as well as Blunt's extensive knowledge of creation, fabrication and innovation. "I bring the technical expertise and the actual fabrication methods. We explore how to bring ideas from a nebulous design phase into practical, tangible prototypes," Blunt said.