Students working in the Innovation Lounge sharing their thinking through diagramming, digital media and
Student teams working in the Innovation Studio with
faculty member moving among the teams as a guide.
perimeters for student pairs. The best part of
this lab is the mix of engineering and physics
students. Engineering students feel less isolated in their department by sharing the lab
with physics students.
A celebration of design, the “Cube” is the
essence of engineering and the design experiences at the heart of Trinity’s Engineering
Science curriculum. Design is utilized to
motivate students and to tie together the
educational experience. At Trinity, this
experience is repeated for each engineering
student every semester, gradually building
student’s skills and confidence.
A collection of spaces that allow students
to easily engage in design thinking as a cyclical process, the Cube is used as a teaching
lab, but is focused on engineering design.
Trinity selected the motto “Think, Model,
Make”, and spaces for each modality are
incorporated within. Each space type is in
close proximity to encourage rapid rotation
from one activity to the next.
Think spaces, like the Innovation Lounge,
provide areas for individuals and groups to
aspire, dream and imagine. These spaces have comfortable seating, moveable
furniture and vertical space to share their
thinking. Model spaces, like the Computer
Lab, provide opportunities to digitally model
ideas alone, or as a team. The inclusion of
3-D printers allows rapid prototyping as
digital models progress. Finally, Make spaces,
like the Innovation Studio and the adjacent
metal wood and electronics shop, allow
students to make ideas come to life.
The Innovation Studio is the centerpiece of
the Cube, and the primary design teaching lab.
This studio provides practical work space, but
pairs it with an inspiring design that connects
the entire Cube and showcases the importance
of design at Trinity by placing it next to the
front door of the Center for the Sciences and
Innovation (CSI). Practically, the lab provides
space for eight teams of five to seven students
to work during class time. Adjacent is space for
two additional teams to have comeback time
simultaneous to a lab session. A small area for
40 students is also available for a quick lecture.
Over the course of a semester, each team will be
moving through iterative cycles of:
• Problem definition
• Designing solutions
• Prototyping designs
• Testing designs
• Refining designs
The Innovation Studio provides a range
of tools for each team to work on as they
develop their projects, ranging in scale from
an electronic breadboard up to a Baja Car.
These tools include:
• Moveable divider pods that define the
• Storage drawers for small hand tools
and brainstorming and prototyping supplies.
• Flat panel display with display inputs.
• Marker boards.
• Marker huddle boards.
• Large, moveable shop table.
• 200 sf of space defined by the moveable
divider pods. This gives the groups a sense of
independence and allows for a large range of
project sizes to be explored.
The Innovation Studio was quickly
recognized as a unique resource on campus.
Faculty and students from the arts, business,
entrepreneurship and the other science disciplines have already begun to use this space for
their own design thinking experiences.
While state-of-the-art labs typically
consume a lot of energy, CSI’s high-perfor-mance design is very energy efficient, embodying Trinity’s commitment to building
a more sustainable future. Its green design
makes the building a teaching tool for
sustainability. From the natural bioswale of
river rock that frames its outdoor classroom
to the green roof over the Cube’s Innovation
Studio, CSI frames scientific inquiry within
the real-world context of environmental
Some of the most prominent sustainability features relate to the Edwards Aquifer, the
main water source for the area. San Antonio
has been in drought for many years, with
water restrictions intensifying. As a result,
students, faculty and staff deeply care about
water conservation. The design of CSI
reduces water use by 20% overall. Adjacent
to the Innovation Studio, at the building’s
main entry, is a bioswale. Just to the south,
is a cistern, fed by a sculptured downspout.
This cistern is used to irrigate the green roof
that covers the Innovation Studio. The roof
is used for recreation and research. Inside the
building, 100% of the building uses gray water from reclaimed reverse osmosis backwash
and mechanical equipment condensate for
flushing low-flow toilets.
LaboratoryDesign|MAY|JUNE 2015 26
continued from page 25