The Arkansas State University Innovation System’s Garage is moving onto campus this week to make the unit more accessible to students, executive director Ty Keller said.
Aside from proximity, the move also saves money in the A-State Innovate budget by significantly reducing operating costs, leading Keller to announce a new campus benefit.
“In talking with the chancellor and others, we wanted a way to increase the number of students using A-State Innovate for projects and idea development,” Keller said. “All A-State students, faculty and staff can register for free to become members of The Garage.”
The Garage will be located at 611 University Loop West, just past the corner where University Loop turns into University Loop West. The building is adjacent to the University Police Department’s main station.
Along with renewed funding support from grants to continue the project, the money saved on rent and utilities in the move allows A-State Innovate to waive the monthly membership fee. In addition, some of the three-dimensional printers will be located in the Dean B. Ellis Library to increase access for students with small projects.
“Arkansas Economic Development Commission is pleased with what we’ve been able to do with A-State Innovate over the last three years, and we look forward to our shared vision for the future,” Phil Plyler with AEDC said. “The new location will make it that much easier to bring together the students and clients for project development in a creative environment.”
While seen as a “maker space” by many, the goal of the A-State Innovate System is to provide tools for prototyping and initial modeling of concepts as well as office space for small startups, Keller added.
“We’ve seen several product and business successes borne from work done by students and citizens at The Garage,” Keller said. “We want to make sure everyone knows The Garage is still open, and we’re looking forward to new innovations.”
The new location was formerly the hub for Residence Life’s maintenance department, whose functions last year were merged into the university’s overall Facilities Management.
“We’ll have almost the exact same amount of space as we had downtown,” Keller said. “We’ll also gain some dedicated parking for community members, which was a challenge at times where we were.”
University community members seeking to activate membership in The Garage will fill out liability waivers and receive instruction in equipment usage prior to gaining full access.