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Canterbury Receives Grant from Hearst Foundations to Help Fund New Innovation Lab

Kelly Slonaker

In December 2019, Canterbury was awarded a generous grant of $100,000 from the Hearst Foundations to help fund its new 1,100-square-foot Innovation Lab. The Innovation Lab, which is included in the construction of the new Steers Center, is slated to open in Fall 2020 and will provide a dedicated, modern, and ample space for Canterbury’s growing innovation curriculum. 

Founded by William Randolph Hearst in 1946, the Hearst Foundations are national philanthropic resources for organizations and institutions working in the fields of Education, Health, Culture and Social Service. The Foundations’ goal is to identify and fund outstanding nonprofits to ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive and inspiring lives. Since inception, the Foundations have made over 21,300 grants to 6,000 organizations, totaling more than $1.23 billion in funds awarded.

Canterbury was introduced to the Foundations by alumnus William Hearst III ’67 and began the rigorous grant application process in the spring of 2019. A crucial part of the process was a site visit from the Foundations, which included time spent with Canterbury’s Associate Head of School for Academics, Suzanne Roberts; Physics Faculty and Robotics Team Coach, Mike Kennedy; and Director of Academic Technology & Innovation, Rob Roffe, as well as several students who use our current Makerspace and design lab. Mike Kennedy spoke about the limitations of the current space used for the Robotics Team: “Our team could not even test their robot for competition based on the size of our space and limited access to electrical outlets.” Member of the Robotics Team, Erik Stedman ’20, emphasized the importance of the new space for the team to learn and practice the transferable skills of engineering, saying, “Robotics allows you to focus on the specific interests you have—design, coding, engineering, testing—and to develop your own unique skill set. If I want to go to college to study engineering, I need the foundational knowledge that I have developed here.”

The awarded grant will help crystallize the Innovation Lab as a central academic space that will enable students and faculty to weave elements of design thinking and fabrication/ideation processes into subject areas spanning the humanities, arts, and sciences. Suzanne Roberts looks forward to the integration of the space across disciplines to prepare students for college and beyond, stating, “Innovation classes and coding languages have to be a part of every student’s curriculum in order to effectively participate in our global technology-based society.” The project has been galvanized by the ethos that “the most creative spaces are those which hurl us together. It is the human friction that makes the sparks.” (Lehrer, J. “Groupthink: The Brainstorming Myth.” The New Yorker. 30 Jan. 2012. The New Yorker Web. 4 Mar. 2019.)

The well-appointed Innovation Lab will be centrally located on the lower level of the Steers Center and will include a NVBots Pro 3D printer, Glowforge Plus laser cutter, LaserPoint 3 ARMS Contour Cut Vinyl Cutter, Heavy Duty Singer sewing machine and other equipment. The space will be structured and scheduled to allow interdisciplinary access.

To learn more about the Hearst Foundations and read their winter grants press release, click here