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Case Western Reserve University highlighted at first National Maker Faire; fall groundbreaking for first phase of expanded think[box] announced

National Maker FaireWhen the White House shared plans to host a first-ever Maker Faire and national “Day of Making,” Case Western Reserve couldn’t wait to take part.
 
After all, this is the university whose graduates invented the intermittent windshield wiper, the Nike Air Sole and carbon fiber. It’s also the place where students have created an emission-free electrical bike and an award-winning shower meter that tracks water and energy use.
 
The university co-led a national effort, along with Carnegie Mellon University, to bring together more than 150 other leaders of higher education to join President Obama's initiative to help develop a "Nation of Makers" by signing a letter committing to a wide range of activities in support of makers on campus, from the opening of public makerspaces to the development of scholarships specifically for student makers.
 
Case School of Engineering Dean Jeffrey L. Duerk personally went to Washington, D.C. to join other leaders of higher education and business for the first annual National Maker Faire at the White House on June 18.



At the same time, in Northeast Ohio, Case Western Reserve shared in the celebration bringing ideas to life with a Maker Open House on campus and participation in an online Google Hangout that brought together maker organizations and individuals across the region, including the Great Lakes Science Center, Ingenuity Cleveland, Lorain County Community College and the Cleveland Public Library.



50,000-square-foot think[box] fall groundbreaking announced

Previously, the university had shared its specific plans for how it is embracing the maker spirit via a letter from university President Barbara R. Snyder to President Obama, outlining our maker space, think[box]---both its current iteration and its future plans.

Rendering of think[box] in the Lincoln Storage BuildingOn June 18, the National Day of Making, the White House released a statement sharing news that the university will break ground this fall on the first phase of the seven-story, 50,000-square-foot innovation hub designed to give visitors the space, technology and expert advice to imagine, prototype and transform their creations into actual products.

Case Western Reserve’s initiative was among three the administration highlighted; the others were at Carnegie Mellon University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Case Western Reserve’s thinkbox is a $30 million project for which the university so far has raised nearly $20 million from about 70 donors. The strong outpouring of support has allowed planners to accelerate the start of construction by breaking the project into two phases. As a result, students and other users will benefit from the much larger and well-stocked space while fundraising for the second phase continues.
 
The concept’s promise has been Illustrated powerfully through the pilot effort known as thinkbox 1.0, a 4,500 square-foot basement space featuring equipment ranging from 3-D printers and circuit-board routers to laser cutters and a 32-square foot ShopBot—a computer-controlled device that cuts, drills, carves and more.
 
Opened in 2012, thinkbox 1.0 has drawn 50,000 visits in the past 18 months and served as the incubator for several student startups, among them companies marketing a fuel-cell powered bicycle and reusable rockets. The pilot space is open to students, faculty, staff and members of the public.

Funding the effort
 
Generous support from accomplished alumni and area business leaders launched the pilot project and continued to drive enthusiasm—and donations—to the larger project.
 
think[box] labelsAlumni Larry and Sally Sears, who committed $5.9 million to create an undergraduate lab for electrical engineering students, committed $5 million to create thinkbox. Larry Sears founded Hexagram, an Ohio company that developed wireless meter-readers for utility companies.
 
Alumnus Barry Romich, co-founder of the Prentke Romich Co., a maker of devices that help people with speech disabilities to communicate, donated $2 million.
 
A. Malachi Mixon, chairman of the board of Invacare, and J.B. Richey, another alumnus and Mixon’s friend and colleague, donated $5 million. Richey created the first full-body CAT scan.
 
In addition, the State of Ohio this spring approved an award of $1 million to support the project.
 
The facility will be open to faculty, staff and students at the university and all other institutions in University Circle, as well as K-12 students, entrepreneurial groups and the public.
 
Expanding opportunities
 
Created to support ideas, innovation and design, the new thinkbox will add meeting and workspace, manufacturing equipment and experts to help guide users. The project involves renovation of the former Lincoln Storage building on campus, and its first phase includes:
 
Floors 1 through 7 of think[box]Floor 1: Community; interactive presentation and workshop areas, an inventors hall of fame, social meeting spaces and more to support a range of activities focusing on users from outside the university, including K-12, students, industry groups and community groups.
Floor 2: Collaboration; open space to support generation and development of ideas. A range of informal, re-configurable spaces for users to meet, think and develop their ideas. Will include multi-media equipment to support group collaboration and expression.
Floor 3: Prototyping; A wide range of state-of-the-art digital manufacturing equipment for users to quickly turn their ideas into some form of physical object.
Floor 4: Fabrication; traditional fabrication/manufacturing workshops.
 
In addition to the work on these floors, the project’s first phase also includes construction of a bridge from the university’s Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center to the building’s second floor. Construction is expected to take between 12 and 16 months.
 
The second phase will include a large, garage-style project floor; a floor devoted to startup assistance, including business planning, intellectual property and legal advice; and a floor for incubating start-up companies that develop both within and outside the university.
 
The university will announce the precise date and time of the groundbreaking later this summer.