student in VR goggles

UCR’s creative lab space expands with new robotics and multimedia tools

Improvements aim to serve campus with new technology

April 3, 2024
Jordan Cornet
Author: Jordan Cornet
April 3, 2024

UC Riverside’s Creat’R Lab has served as an innovative space for students seeking to bring their creative and academic projects to life. Located in Orbach Library, the space has expanded in recent months to offer new tools for robotics and virtual reality projects.

Managed by both staff and students, the lab offers a wide range of resources, including 3D printers and workstations to support various project needs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. While the primary focus is on academic projects, library patrons can also use it for personal projects for a fee.

In September, UCR Library added a new workspace for robotics projects with the Robotics Lab, housed in a room across from the main Creat’R Lab room.

The Robotics Lab features workbenches with a variety of tools including soldering stations and supplies like microcontrollers to create items from simple circuits to animatronics. Lego Mindstorms kits are available to create programmable robots.

Student employees work inside the Robotics Lab, part of the Creat'R Lab Makerspace at Orbach Library on February 13, 2024.(UCR/Stan Lim)

One of the more notable projects created in the lab was a small remote control electric car, said Ernest Romero, a fourth-year bioengineering student and robotics lab worker.

The other new workspace is the 3D experience Lab, or 3DXP Lab, located in a room next to the Robotics Lab. Equipped with computers, virtual reality headsets, and 3D scanners, the lab provides users a convenient space for video, picture, and 3D editing. The 3DXP lab serves as a dedicated space for digital media projects, including a green screen wall that allows students to create versatile backdrops.

Brendon Wheeler, the Create’R Lab maker services coordinator, said more enhancements are planned so the lab continues to serve students with the latest technology.

“Our future improvements will really enhance the student experience and help them feel more comfortable in the room,” he said.

Those include increasing the number of machines available and renovating and painting the room to give it new look.

A 3D printer is used to create a project at the Creat'R Lab Makerspace on February 13, 2024, inside the Orbach Library. (UCR/Stan Lim)

The 3D printers, at the main Creat’R Lab space, remain among the most popular services at the lab. Compatible with a number of design platforms, they allow for precise and efficient creation of 3D replicas. They have been in steady demand with 544 print requests in 2023.

Educational prints are free while personal projects cost $0.06 per gram. Finished prints are collected from lockers outside the lab with payments processed inside.

The lab uses PLA, a bio-sourced and biodegradable plastic, and filters to reduce odors and toxicity in the lab.

In addition to 3D printing, the lab offers stations for embroidery, sewing, textiles, paper cutting, zine-making, electronics, photography, videography, music, and virtual reality. These facilities support a broad spectrum of creative activities, from costume making to cosplay, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis at no charge.

The space draws users from various disciplines including professors and students from the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering; the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and the College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences.

Marvely Rodriguez Calva, a Student Technician II, prepares a 3D printer in the Creat'R Lab Makerspace on February 8, 2024, inside the Orbach Library. (UCR/Stan Lim)

Miko Padilla, a fourth-year history major, is among those who appreciates the lab’s resources.

“I’m glad to have found out about the lab during student orientation and to have taken the time to try the 3D printers,” he said.

The lab also offers employment opportunities for students like Dariana Gonzalez, a third-year psychology major and lab supervisor.

“The 3D printing process is probably the best part of the learning experience in the Creat’R Lab,” she said, calling it “mind-blowing” seeing the process in action.

Workshops are offered every few weeks to give students an opportunity to learn more about the lab and ways to be creative.

While primarily used by students, the lab is also open to faculty and staff members and alumni. For detailed information on the Creat’R Lab and its services, visit the UCR Library website.