Innovation Renovation: The New Innovation Lab

Everyone knows the traditional concept of a computer lab, rows of old Macs or PCs lining the walls of a cinder block room are what make up such spaces in schools around the country. But here at Saint Xavier High School, things are done differently. Instead of opting for the old-fashioned banks of computers, St. X has created a high-tech environment with professional grade equipment open for every student. And with a renovation recently completed, the Innovation Lab is primed for the academic and creative enhancement of Saint Xavier’s students.

The Innovation Lab has one purpose: to foster academic prowess and creativity in Saint Xavier’s student body with a variety of technologies. From 3D printers to laser cutters, the Innovation Lab offers high-tech equipment with which students can learn practical skills and bring creative projects to fruition. Open from early morning to late afternoon during the week, the Innovation Lab is open to any student at any time. The ever-present teachers are more than willing to help with any project. Mr. Daniel McCue, an engineering teacher, noted, “Rarely are we going to say no.” And McCue isn’t lying; he has helped students build life-size boats with wood and 3D print a 5-foot scale model of one of NASA’s newest rockets. Although the teachers are there to provide help, Mr. McCue stressed that it is up to the student to come up with a viable plan to complete their projects. With the recent renovation, Saint Xavier was able to make these projects possible.

“The Innovation Lab… is always evolving. We’re always thinking about how it can be better.””

— Mr. Dan McCue

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But what is the recent renovation? Completed over the summer of 2019, the Innovation Lab was reimagined with a more flexible setup and high-tech equipment. In order to create an easily adaptable lab, mobile equipment was installed, including a new, professional-grade laser cutter, the same model used by the University of Dayton, a new, larger computer numerical control router (CNC), a quartet of work tables, a new, easily cleanable floor, and light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, able to be extended to any part of the lab to increase flexibility. The impermanence of the room was intentional, as Mr. McCue states that “the Innovation Lab… is always evolving. We’re always thinking about how it can be better.” The flexibility of the room allows for equipment addition or remodeling in the future, providing opportunities for students to make the most out of their experience with the lab. The Innovation Lab’s new equipment and adaptability makes it a valuable asset for students now and in the future.

Though the renovation brought exciting new equipment to the Innovation Lab, there are many more features that are open to students. From the ranks of computers to a functional robotics lab, students are able to pursue their many pursuits, whether that be flight simulation or 3D printing. Additional equipment includes a second laser cutter, additional CNC routers, and a computer-aided design program for architectural pursuits. The Innovation Lab is equipped to assist students in any creative project they wish to undertake.

The uses of the Innovation Lab are not only for out of school projects; many classes also learn through the lab. The Engineering 1 and 2 classes often frequent the lab alongside the Graphic Design course. However, industry-based classes are not the only ones to utilize the facility. The Innovation Lab has seen a diverse range of classes apply the Innovation Lab to their lessons, from freshman English courses burning symbols into plywood to commemorate short stories to a statistics class planning to create a plinko board to test statistical analysis.

Assisting students and teachers in creative and academic projects, the Innovation Lab is prepared to maximize the potential of both Saint Xavier’s students and the school itself.