Friday, September 3, 2021

Students working at a table, a rendering of a building lobby, and two 3D printed replications of Rodin's The Thinker

This fall, the Library is pleased to welcome the Caltech community to our new TechHub. Located on the first floor of the Millikan Building, the TechHub is a productive and creative space offering several Library services and resources. It is currently the home of our TechLab for 3D printing and will soon be the location for our technology lending program, an additional Caltech Archives & Special Collections exhibition space, our upcoming retail partnership with Vroman’s Bookstore, and a makerspace for play and experimentation.

The Caltech Library TechLab provides members of the Caltech community hands-on access to innovative rapid prototyping technologies to support the Institute's research and educational mission. The new TechHub space will allow the TechLab to add additional 3D printers, workstations to prepare files for printing, a comfortable waiting area, and two dedicated post-processing tables where patrons can put the final touches on their completed prints.

The TechLab offers an entry-level introduction to fabrication technologies, eventually with the hope of adding paper, vinyl, and laser cutting tools to the current 3D printing equipment. Library staff members, including Ian Roberts, Paula Gaetos, and Olivia Ramirez—who TechLab users may recognize from past orientations and mediated 3D printing work done for students and researchers who could not be on campus this past year—will be available for consultations. They can determine optimal settings for your project’s particular needs, and they can help print prototypes for review and testing before committing to higher-end fabrication. Previous experience with the equipment is not required, but first-time users will be required to go through a brief orientation to the lab before using the equipment.

In support of other tech pursuits, the TechHub will also lodge our technology lending program, where the Caltech community can borrow computer and audiovisual equipment. In addition to short-term lending, Caltech's iPad Loaner Program will provide iPads and Apple Pencils to students for online collaboration and course work during the 2021-2022 academic year. Priority will be given to new incoming students.

The TechHub will feature an additional exhibition space for Caltech Archives & Special Collections, which will showcase physical objects as well as a digital display. The first exhibit, Gone But Not Forgotten, will be an extension of Becoming Caltech, the Archives’ 2020 exhibit about how Throop University became the California Institute of Technology.

We’ll soon be sharing more details about our upcoming partnership with Pasadena’s own Vroman’s Bookstore, Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore. University Librarian Kara Whatley and the Vroman’s staff will curate a collection for Caltech, and Vroman’s entire inventory will be available to order for campus delivery twice a week. The TechHub will serve as a pickup location for those items.

TechHub Manager Ian Roberts is busy brainstorming ideas for other resources and services the TechHub can provide in the future, including a library of board games, a sewing machine, DIY repair toolkits, and possibly a 3D scanner. He hopes to eventually offer workshops in this “friendly crafting space for creative play.” When the campus fully reopens, stop by the TechHub and say hello.