I won’t lie. Ten years out of college, I’m pretty freaking envious of the new digs, new technology and new features on so many college campuses these days. My only positive memory of my college dorm’s basement was the free ice cream during exam week.
At N.C. State’s new Innovation Hall at Wolf Ridge Apartments on Centennial Campus, smart and eager young people can quite literally start businesses and build products in theirs. At their disposal are MakerBots and laser cutters, iPads and smart whiteboards and they can fix up meals in state-of-the-art kitchens while they work. Breaks can be taken on a sand volleyball court on the quad. Experienced entrepreneurs and mentors will roam the halls providing advice and assistance.
I’ll get over my jealousy. But what I can’t get over are the 225 student-members of The EI Garage, a tiny makerspace started on Centennial Campus in 2010 and now doubling in size this summer with the grand opening of Innovation Hall. Besides the Garage, the new hall offers a living and learning apartment community (called the Andy and Jane Albright Entrepreneurs Living and Learning Village) for student entrepreneurs and holds the new headquarters of the campus-wide Entrepreneurship Initiative.
The fact that a college would invest dollars and real estate to create an innovative yet professional space for young 20-somethings shows a good deal of confidence that there’s enough demand out there for entrepreneurship education. And I learned during my tour this week that Innovation Hall is only the beginning of a new master plan for building up entrepreneurs at N.C. State.
In coming years, funds will be raised for another new building on Centennial Campus. Plans are to move the Garage, EI, the university’s Shelton Leadership Center and an existing tech incubator for non-student entrepreneurs into the building, creating a true hub of campus and community entrepreneurship just steps from the Entrepreneurs Village.
But for now, have a lustful look at the impressive digs at Innovation Hall. And check it out yourself at a public grand opening planned for September 2nd.