Marianne Petit, my advisor from ITP, is now running the IMA (Interactive Media Arts) program at NYU Shanghai. She posted this in an email this morning, responding to questions about how they set up their new classroom. Lots of people ask me this, and this is pretty close to how I answer & what we have set up in our lab (although I would like to move away from power tools at the recommendation of Matt from Metrix:Create Space in Seattle) so with her permission, her whole list is below:
We’ve had to think through this for the start of IMA (Interactive Media Arts, the undergrad version of ITP) here in Shanghai.
There are a bunch of things we’ve really pushed for to ensure that we have maximum flexibility and that the tone is set correctly. (In other words – not like a typical classroom space.) We wanted our space to be self-contained so we can operate autonomously in terms of programming and scheduling. As a result, we’ve had to build it for dual purposes — both as a classroom space and as a lab/workshop space that the students would feel ownership of. Here are things we’ve done to that end that may be helpful to you.
Tall work tables on wheels (and in our case built-in access to power). They’re super configurable, allow for lecture and presentation formats, conference room style work, small group work, etc. It’s very gratifying to easily move the furniture whenever you need to.
We outfitted them with stools that have backs and a rotating base so you can spin easily to direct your attention to anyone or anything in the room. They are also on wheels.
That said, the tables also allow for standing work which is really helpful. (We just hosted a DIYBio workshop in our space as part of a conference so you can see how they worked here: http://mariannerpetit.tumblr.com/post/64667688563/shanghai-china-hacked-matter-diy-bio-workshop-at)
For our new space we’re getting more tables of a similar design but with a sturdy wood surface top for messier shop work.
Another detail is that our chairs are really colorful. We’re going to continue that in the new space. It seems like a really silly detail but it has made for a very welcoming and non-traditional environment that the students love.
Flexible access to power is really really important. In our current space we didn’t really get this and have had to be creative in running power from the wall. In the new building I’ve pushed for what we have at ITP – ceiling trays with retractable power cords.
3) Personal Storage
Storage lockers for students so they don’t have to carry everything back and forth and it’s easy for them just to drop by whenever they want.
4) 3D printers
We bought two based on the Ultimaker and are really pleased. We have found that students can do an awful lot with free software (Autodesk (123DCatch, 123DDesign, Meshmixer), Blender, etc.) . That said we also got a few copies of Rhino that we’re going to install on some Dells we have just in case students need/want more.
We had to buy a standalone filter for our current space because we had no ability to build ventilation. In the new space we’ve built that into the construction plan. We’ve also had to be sensitive to noise because our lab is currently located in a corridor with other classrooms and offices. Other than when the air compressor fills (which is loud) it’s all relatively quiet.
6) Hand tools
This includes power tools (jigsaws, drills, etc.) and soldering irons, wirestrippers, etc.
I would recommend getting one for the obvious reasons of it being helpful for lectures / teaching / community & group work. Ours came with our lab/class so we have been limited by its placement — fixed to the ceiling and thrown onto the long wall (what you would do in a traditional classroom). I’ve been pushing for a more flexible mount in the new space so we can swivel it towards the short wall for conference room style teaching/presentations. I would encourage getting one but would discourage affixing it to anything.
8) Starter Kits for Arduinos
We provided them to our students for the first half of their computational media class. I know the Xinchejian (the makerspace here in Shanghai) has them available for sale to new members just to get them started. re: software – what you would expect. free and students have it all installed on their laptops.
9) Bench tools
We purchased a drill press, band saw, mitre saw, lathe, and sander. This is probably more than you need. We’ve yet to install them (we’ve emptied out our ER and are going to use it as separate shop that we’ll make operational in January, once we come up with noise and safety policies.
10) Production Laptops with software the students can’t afford
Some laptops with the Adobe suite / MadMapper, etc.. We needed to provide students with access to photoshop / illustrator / premiere / after effects. I don’t recommend that for you. Also, the site licensing was a pain in the neck.
11) PCB Printer
That’s the next thing on our plan to add.