Introduction to The Innovation Lab

With the new school year comes the latest edition to campus: the Doug and Diane Villhard Innovation Lab. This lab, available to all students and alumni, can be found on the first floor of Truman State’s Pickler Memorial Library. Truman began construction in January of 2023, and by the end of August the library held a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially welcome this new lab to students. 

The innovation lab will be available to students during all regular library hours. This space will offer a variety of resources and tools that can help further student’s education. The lab has a Lego wall, a podcasting studio, touchscreen whiteboards, and flexible furniture students can move to fit their needs. This lab was created to encourage a variety of students to come together in one space to think critically and solve problems. 

“It is about fostering idea generation and experimentation,” Janet Romine, Dean of Libraries and Museums, said.  “It is almost like trying to set up a creative space for students to try things out. It is for them to work together and then try things out and practice solving problems in different ways and thinking in different ways.”

Doug and Diane Villhard made this new feature on campus a reality. Both are Truman State alumni and met through a group project assignment. They believe in giving back to the community and saw the innovation lab as a way to not only provide support for students but also  to promote their love of entrepreneurial thinking and innovation. They have also been involved with campus through other endeavors like the Bulldog B.I.T.E. competition. 

Students and classes are encouraged to reserve the lab for group projects, individual work, or even as a space to learn creatively. This enables collaboration with those inside and outside one’s major. The lab was also created as a way to promote an environment of entrepreneurial thinking and innovation. 

“We just want people to use the space,” Doug Villhard said. “Who knows what’s gonna come out of it? Who knows if someone is going to work on a new venture? Who knows if someone is going to get a good grade in the class? It’s just a world of possibilities, and that’s the beauty of an open space like that for anyone to use.”

Some students have already taken advantage of this space to work with friends or for a quick study break to play with the Legos. The innovation lab enables a new study location for those who frequent the library often. 

“I am very excited for the innovation lab,” junior Kara Hardin said. “That section of the library is my favorite area to study with friends. I think the podcast studio will be fun to use for future group projects. My friends and I have already played around the Lego wall and have used it as a fun study break.”