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Skidmore College

History of the IdeaLab

Skidmore began developing the Schupf Family IdeaLab in 2016 as part of a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Over the past five years, The IdeaLab Steering Committee has prototyped the IdeaLab, and has built a community of faculty, staff, and student collaborators who engage with our Makerspace and with our IdeaLab innovative pedagogy curriculum. The current IdeaLab Makerspace (“The Hub”) is located in a temporary studio space and is maintained by the IdeaLab manager. In the summer of 2022, the IdeaLab will move into a new custom-designed space: The Schupf Family IdeaLab Makerspace. The Schupf Family IdeaLab Makerspace will be the metaphorical (and literal) cornerstone of Skidmore’s new Center for Integrated Sciences, with its location adjacent to the main entryway on the first floor. While located within a science building, the IdeaLab is located within a 3-minute walk of Scribner Library, the campus center, and most academic units. The Schupf Family IdeaLab will provide a central space for cross-disciplinary innovation and for creating connections between different communities.

IdeaLab Director’s Position Description

The Director’s mission within the Schupf Family IdeaLab is threefold: : amplifying creativity especially through making, fostering innovative pedagogy across campus, and overseeing the infrastructure and administration of the IdeaLab Makerspace. The Director of the Schupf Family IdeaLab will report to the Dean of the Faculty/Vice President for Academic Affairs and be a member of the VPAA Senior Staff. Job responsibilities are described in detail below.

Promoting Making and Creativity across Campus.

The Director will work with students and faculty to imagine how making and design thinking shapes teaching and learning across fields and disciplines. They will invite the Skidmore community to work at the Schupf Family IdeaLab Makerspace to create both curricular and extracurricular projects. They will bring makers to campus to hold workshops and collaborate with staff, faculty, and students. The Director will:

  • Support creative collaboration and prototyping;
  • Provide support to faculty who are integrating making or design-thinking methodologies into their coursework;
  • Coordinate logistics for and assist with workshops for faculty, staff, and students to learn about design thinking, making, innovation, and entrepreneurship;
  • Invite makers and design-thinking experts to campus for workshops;
  • Collaborate with students, faculty, and staff to help them identify and find the equipment and materials in the Makerspace they need for creating projects and prototypes

Fostering Innovative Pedagogy.

The Director will collaborate with faculty on new curricular programs that reimagine the methods of teaching and learning. These pedagogical collaborations among students, faculty, and staff may involve making directly, or may disrupt the traditional college classroom in other ways. The Director will:

  • Create opportunities for innovative pedagogy development;
  • Invite and welcome students, faculty, and staff from different disciplines into the IdeaLab;
  • Provide support to faculty who are integrating innovative pedagogy into their courses;
  • Coordinate and provide support for faculty teaching IL-designated (i.e. IdeaLab) courses;
  • Oversee the creation, scheduling, and running of all IL courses

Overseeing the Infrastructure and Administration of the Makerspace.

The Director will supervise a small staff and will need to coordinate and partner with the many different individuals who will utilize the tools and resources available through the Schupf Family IdeaLab. Their partners may include faculty offering innovative pedagogy courses; faculty assigning projects supported by the IdeaLab; students completing course projects; student workers; clubs offering extracurricular projects; and faculty, students, and staff offering workshops. The Director will be responsible for working with the IdeaLab Manager to develop a financial and logistical plan for the space. The Director will also be in charge of working with relevant campus constituencies to help secure additional funds to support innovative IdeaLab initiatives. These may include working with prospective donors, writing grant proposals, and collaborating with Advancement and Alumni Relations. The Director will be charged with creating a space that welcomes and supports all identities and disciplines through outreach and community-building programs. The Director will:

  • Supervise the IdeaLab Manager;
  • Supervise the IdeaLab Administrative Assistant;
  • Work with staff to purchase and operate (or train others in the operation of) equipment;
  • Work with staff to oversee the IdeaLab facilities, and create and maintain a safety plan;
  • Work with existing creative/prototyping spaces on campus to coordinate equipment resources;
  • Participate in relevant professional development opportunities;
  • Track expenditures and manage an operating budget including materials, student workers, workshops and events, and innovation grants;
  • Oversee campus-wide publicity and communications;
  • Produce annual reports;
  • Recruit and welcome faculty, staff, and students to the IdeaLab Makerspace;
  • Seek external funds and engage in fundraising and friendraising.

Should you have any questions, contact Sarah for assistance.

Sarah Sweeney
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Art