XJTLU launches Innovation Factory

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Hundreds of staff and students attended the launch of the Innovation Factory which was held at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University last month.

Professor Youmin Xi, executive president of XJTLU, and Wentao Wang, a XJTLU student, jointly unveiled the first batch of 3D printed products produced in the Innovation Factory, which are the statues of Professor Xi and Wentao.

Initiated by International Innovation Hub (IIH) and International Technology Transfer Centre, guided by XJTLU’s syntegrative education philosophy and inspired in part by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Fab Lab, the Innovation Factory serves both the campus and the community.

Wentao said students were involved in every aspect of the development of the Factory.

“We participated in the whole procedure from the design and building of the human body scanner to the modelling and printing of the product,” said Wentao.

“We chose to print the statues of our executive president and a student representative to demonstrate that the Innovation Factory is not out of reach for the general public.

“Even if you have no basic knowledge in some subjects, you can still start your journey of innovation.”

Professor Xi pointed out that the main aim of establishing the XJTLU Innovation Factory is to help students change their learning methods.

“Technology is developing rapidly so students today need to have critical thinking and imagination to push the boundaries. To acquire such capabilities, students need seminars, experiments and guidance from the teachers,” he said.

“The Innovation Factory is a good platform for providing these useful resources. Here, students will be offered the necessary equipment, skills training and environment to transform the way they learn.

“By stimulating creativity and integrating resources, the factory can help students implement their ideas, leading the trend of innovation across the University.”

This is the first shared 3D print laboratory at XJTLU that is open to the public. There are more than 20 desktop 3D printers and several industrial grade SLA 3D printers, which are available for 30-50 people to operate at the same time.

Through the free experience vouchers for open courses, students and staff can receive training lessons on 3D print modelling, learn about the 3D printing devices and technologies, and print whatever they want with a printer.

Besides 3D printing courses, the Innovation Factory will also cooperate with enterprises involved in developing Internet of Things technologies to provide related open courses for XJTLU staff and students. Students will have the opportunity to understand the development of Internet of Things and even produce an anti-lost alarm by themselves.

“If we stick the anti-lost alarm on our phones and key cards, it will set off an alarm once we get a certain distance away from them,” explained Wentao.

Dr Chun Kwong Koo, director of the International Innovation Hub, said XJTLU hopes to develop innovative programmes and entrepreneurial teams that drive innovation with a focus on solving practical problems.

“The Innovation Factory will not only be open to all staff, students and the wider community, but it will also be a place to exchange ideas with the innovators all over the world,” he said.

Professor Xi said XJTLU hopes to form an innovation ecology by promoting collaboration between the University and industries through IIH.

“We also hope to improve the efficiency of resource integration and invite all members of our community to contribute their innovative ideas,” he said.

Professor Eng Gee Lim, dean for Research and Graduate Studies, and Professor Dechang Xu, head of XJTLU’s Research Office also took part in the opening event.

By Bo Kou and Sihan Liu; photos by Haochen Wang and Ruotong Jiang
Translated by Boqiang Xiao; edited by Yuanxin Yang and Rosanna Galvin

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