KENT — Kent State University celebrated the construction launch of its new Design Innovation Hub — not with a ribbon cutting, but rather with a ribbon spreading.

After remarks by the DI Hub’s inaugural director J.R. Campbell on Tuesday, students from disciplines across the campus — including computer science, fashion design, marketing and accounting — took ribbons from the DI Hub’s central campus location and ran to their respective buildings.

“We usually do a ribbon cutting, but we’re really doing a ribbon connecting. We’re connecting a vast array of resources across the buildings that we call Innovation Nodes,” Campbell said. “We’re connecting all the resources across the university to this hub that’s being created.”

When open in the fall of 2020, the 68,000-square-foot, $44.5 million DI Hub will serve as an open space for interdisciplinary collaboration and design thinking.

The DI Hub will be housed in the former Art Building and will be the central point of the Design Innovation Ecosystem, which includes the Hub and 28 “nodes” located across the campus. The nodes include various labs across the campus and at regional campuses, as well as places like the Wick Poetry Center, Spark Innovation Studio and the Campus Kitchen.

“The core purpose evolved into being one that we could activate the network and the set of resources that exist,” Campbell said.

In creating that network of collaboration, President Beverly Warren said the university aims to develop “T-shaped” individuals, who have deep knowledge of their disciplines but can creatively apply that knowledge to other areas.

“To thrive in the 21st century, individuals must be comfortable with a rapidly changing environment, and that doesn’t come by living in their own world and only talking to people like them. You must interact with those who think differently than you do, and by virtue of that, who knows what we can produce,” she said.

With the DI Hub, the university is not looking to create a new major or a new school, Campbell said, although they would like to build a program of distinction around it, much like the Honors College, “to show there’s a skill set and a way of thinking that’s really been engendered in the population.”

Warren said the university would also like to incorporate design-thinking courses into its core curriculum, so that students learn early on how to identify and address a problem. She also anticipates that the DI Hub will facilitate new corporate relationships and enhance the relationships they already have.

The DI Hub is among the major milestones in Phase I of the university’s $1 billion facilities master plan.

 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@recordpub.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoRCedu.