A person removes a piece of wood cutout from a printer that reads Idea Lab.

A popular misconception is that the Idea Lab at Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus is just for students working on assignments.

Erin Walker, a digital fluency librarian with the Idea Lab, said that actually isn’t the case at all. While academic use is prioritized, the Humber community is encouraged to come and try out the technology regardless of whether it’s for class or their own interest.

“Although the Idea Lab is primarily designed to support media-rich assignments, we welcome users to work on personal projects or tinker with the technologies when space permits,” said Walker. “The learning that occurs outside of class is just as important as what happens in the classroom. Likewise, we know that taking a break from studying to engage in a creative activity has both personal and academic benefits.”   

A colourful sign being printed by a large printer.

The lab is located on the third floor of the G Building in the Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship. Walker said there are five bookable studios with a diverse selection of tools and equipment that encourage creativity and promote digital fluency skill development. Some of these resources are exclusive to the Lakeshore Idea Lab, though there is some crossover with the North Campus location.  

There are desktop fabrication tools including 3D printers, a laser cutter, a clamshell-style heat press, and a print-and-cut machine. Recently, they added a desktop vacuum former and, later this semester, they will launch the lab’s textile fabrication tools including a sewing machine, serger, and embroidery machine.  

On the media creation side of things, the lab supports digital film and photography, audio recording, and podcasting. It has video and DSLR cameras, microphones, tripods, and various lighting options. Users can also access specialized tools such as a portable lightbox for product photography and a camera stabilizer. The soundproof vocal booth and the four-mic podcast studio come equipped with an audio mixer ideal for recording podcasts or voiceovers. For those who are musically inclined, the lab offers an 88-key MIDI keyboard and an analog synthesizer.   

A small recording booth with a microphone.

All students, staff and faculty at Humber and the University of Guelph-Humber can use the College’s Idea Labs regardless of program of study or level of experience. The lab also provides a limited quantity of consumable materials, such as cardstock, acrylic, filament and others, for free.

Walker says the lab’s usage has increased steadily since its official launch in January and anticipates this academic year will be even busier. While walk-ins are welcome if space is available, users are encouraged to book studio time in advance through the Idea Lab website or on-site kiosk to avoid disappointment.

Some equipment requires certification before users are eligible to make a booking. For example, to use a 3D printer, individuals first need to complete a short training session, either online or in-person.    

Later this semester, the Idea Lab will start offering kits with video and audio recording equipment for students to borrow. Walker said the kits are a great alternative if studio space is fully booked or if students want to film or record off-site or outside of the Idea Lab’s operating hours.   

The Idea Lab offers a variety of workshops throughout the semester on topics such as creating simple websites, infographics, podcasting, videos, and more. Those interested can register to attend a workshop on the Idea Lab website