Duke’s Newest Makerspace: Co-Lab Studio and More


By Anandita Ananthakumar

In October, Duke’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) hosted the grand opening of the new Technology Engagement Center. The TEC is a space where students can engage in collaborative projects and use the various resources available to aid their design ventures. It was certainly a sight to see. The atmosphere was buzzing with technological innovations and creative exchanges, accompanied by some great food and live electronica music.

The new center is organized into seven main sections:

  • The Co-lab commons is the center of it all. It’s a great place to hang out with people, discuss projects and have meetings in a more informal setting.


  • The Duke Research Computing area provides space for researchers to learn about cluster computing, big data management, visualization, and storage.
  • The Classroom features an open space that serves as a classroom setting for free technology training courses or it can transform into a conference room. This space supports audio and video conferencing and lecture recording.
  • The Project room is a more formal work place setting, where people can choose to use their wired or wireless connection systems.
  • The Studio features a wall of 3D printers that are available for free to the entire Duke community. It is a great place for collaborative work that offers open spaces to enable creative expression.


  • The Garage is adjacent to the studio and features laser cutters and some higher-end 3D printers. Together, the Studio and Garage are arguably the most exciting spaces in the center.
  • The Academic Production Studio houses the team responsible for Duke’s academic video and audio content on various online platforms like Coursera and Duke Extend. This space will promote further digital and audio visual collaborations amongst students and faculty.

A number of students showcased the ideas and design products they developed with the help of Innovation Co-lab, including a prosthetic arm developed by the student organization Duke eNABLE, and the spontaneous hangout app “Walla.” The attendees of the event enjoyed free t-shirts, 3D-printed stickers and other exciting giveaways.

studentThe event was certainly an enriching experience. The Technology Engagement Center is a first-rate resource—a uniquely open space that encourages collaborative thinking. Students will benefit from the Center’s innovative spaces and resources while working on senior capstones, startup projects and other design experiments.


Anandita Ananthakumar, currently a Biomedical Engineering graduate student, grew up in Dubai and recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University at Buffalo, New York. She enjoys meeting new people, loves to travel and will never say no to chocolate. She is currently working as a student assistant in the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies.

Duke Digital Initiative Calls for Emerging Technologies Proposals


Deadline: Rolling Application Accepted Throughout the Year

The Duke Digital Initiative (DDI) will continue to accept proposals to explore new and emerging technologies throughout 2016. Proposals are being accepted for projects (open to faculty, librarians, graduate students), attendance at technology-focused conferences (open to faculty), and the development of innovative visualizations to improve learning in any undergraduate Duke course (open to anyone who teaches a Duke undergraduate course).

We seek to support the use or exploration of new and emerging technologies not routinely used for undergraduate education at Duke or that might be applied to undergraduate education in new ways. A proposal does not need to be tied to a specific undergraduate course, but should state how the lessons learned (good and bad) from your project will contribute to undergraduate education at Duke.

Proposals that are accepted will receive funding, as well as pedagogical and technical advice and consultations. Support for formal assessment, when appropriate, will be available.

Instructors, graduate students, and librarians are eligible to submit proposals in this category. We encourage students who have a project idea to discuss the idea with a Duke instructor who might be interested in submitting a proposal.

Funding Limits: Most awards will provide up to $5,000 for a project. However, we welcome proposals for larger projects requiring up to $25,000 in support. Funds may be used to purchase hardware or software, and/or cover the cost of student or time-limited employees. Funds may be available for other kinds of expenses that are detailed in the proposal.

Funded Project Requirements: If your project is funded, you will be required to 1) write a blog post about your experiences to be posted on the DDI and CIT blogs; and 2) conduct a discussion that will be open to the campus community. The discussion should consist of a brief presentation about the project goals and outcomes, followed by a discussion.

You can draw on several Duke resources before submitting your proposal:

  • CIT staff can help you think through pedagogical issues and share examples. (Contact: cit@duke.edu)
  • OIT staff can help determine how much technical support your project is likely to require and share examples. (Contact: ddi-requests@duke.edu)
  • Your departmental or school IT staff may be able to help with your proposal or project.
  • If your project involves visualization, consider consulting with Duke Libraries’ Data and Visualization Services (http://library.duke.edu/data/).