Makerbot Innovation Lab just one of CARTA’s many strides

Adrian Herrera – Life! Editor

A $185,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has enabled FIU’s College of Architecture and the Arts (CARTA) to create a 3,000 square foot MakerBot Innovation Lab at the Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS). The facility will be home to thirty 3D printers and three 3D scanners, making FIU’s CARTA the only arts/design school in the country to house a MakerBot Innovation Lab, according to CARTA dean, Brian Schriner.

With 30 printers, the lab will be able to serve up to 60 students at one time, with one printer between every two student workstations.

“Over here (at the Modesto Maidique Campus) we only have five 3D printers and there are so many students you have to make appointments and it takes awhile. But over there at MBUS, they’re going to be having the time of their lives with all those printers. Luckily we’re all required to take a semester at MBUS, so everyone’s going to get a chance to use them,” said Kelly Privat, a fourth year architecture major at FIU.

Besides offering for-credit classes to FIU students, the lab will provide public workshops for elementary and middle school students and offer dual enrollment programs for high schoolers, as well as work with other colleges within FIU and various organizations in the community such as Miami Beach’s Rokk3r Labs, a company co-builder.

The news comes on the tails of an announcement appointing CARTA dean Brian Schriner as the cultural arts liaison to FIU.

“The ‘cultural arts liaison’ position was created as a means of leveraging the cultural assets of the university,” said dean Schriner, “With our new strategic plan, Beyond Possible 2020, we wanted to make it so that the arts themselves have a strategic plan. The university has a plethora of cultural assets including the CARTA itself, our three accredited museums, our partnership with the Royal Caribbean cruise line, our upcoming partnership with the Coconut Grove Playhouse, our nationally ranked Writers on the Bay series and creative writing program and much more. So the gist of the position is finding a means of combining these assets to serve a common purpose which is ensuring student success.”

Schriner hopes to create a more cohesive experience for students to improve their education, retention and graduation rates by creating an environment that is more aligned with creativity than the standard monochromatic interpretation of arts education.

“Only a handful of universities have combined design arts, visual arts, performing arts, music and communication arts into one college under one dean with an engaged mission,” said Schriner.

Certainly a complex task, the end result is a college that is more streamlined, as putting one umbrella over multiple departments will reduce duplicated efforts and allow students more freedom to explore their creativity. The move is also a perfect case of the ‘right place at the right time’ idiom.

“We live in a city that is currently transforming itself around arts, design and culture. As one of the largest universities in the country and one of South Florida’s largest economic engines, we have a very unique situation to make large impacts in the education of students by taking our cultural assets and integrating them into the city at such a pivotal time,” said the dean.

In order to do this, the university has recruited economist Dr. Richard Florida, author of “The Rise of the Creative Class,” to conduct a study analyzing the economy of South Florida in terms of what kind of creative jobs are available and in demand. The goal is to to create degree programs such as graphic design and animation, which are widely unavailable or unaffordable in South Florida, but can help fuel its economy.

Dr. Florida’s study, nearing its completion in the fall, will give FIU the data it needs to begin realigning its creative degree programs to make the arts more economically viable and perhaps put an end to the idea that there is no money to be made in the arts. Dean Schriner assures that the traditional arts programs like visual arts and music will not be modified, but will be joined by new educational tracks such as arts administration where students whom may not be artists themselves, but have a love for the arts can learn how to set up businesses through galleries and art-based non-profits.

CARTA will also be offering free, online modules on finance and business to its students this fall so they can learn the ins and outs of business without having to sit through the classes in order to make themselves and their work more economically viable – yet another innovation blending creativity and functionality in the 21st century.

“As an artist, your number one asset is yourself. So how do you market yourself? We hope to provide an answer to the question,” Schriner said, before laughing, “We are not seeking to take the arts out of CARTA. We are viewing the arts as another mechanism by which a student can earn a living. We believe that students can do well and do good at the same time.”


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