Franklin College cuts ribbon on tech center renovations

Franklin College cuts ribbon on tech center renovations

Franklin College’s Center for Technical Innovations reopened to students in January after $200,000 in renovations. College officials marked the reopening Friday with a ribbon cutting.


Franklin College officials cut the ribbon Friday on a redesigned Center for Technical Innovation, marking the completion of about $200,000 in renovations to the building’s exterior.

The college’s former athletic annex, located at 901 Park Avenue, has undergone $400,000 in renovations to reopen in the fall of 2021 as the Center for Technical Innovation, or CTI. The Center, which houses virtual reality headsets, 3D printers, a sound studio, a video studio and a digital maker space, closed again in March 2022 so the exterior of the building could be rebuilt. This time it was reopened for good.

With the renovations, the CTI now has a modern metallic gray exterior, with a hybrid of ridges, squares and windows covering the exterior walls. A $200,000 gift from Rob and Ruth Brown covered the cost of the renovations, which help the building’s exterior match the technology-focused interior, Franklin College President Kerry Prather said.

“The exterior of the building has been redesigned and renovated to reflect the kind of creative, innovative work that goes on inside,” he said. “On the surface, it doesn’t look like any other building on campus. It looks very modern time. We wanted it to be a statement about this iteration of education being added, a foundation we provide to students regardless of their academic goals.”

Before the CTI first opened, students in certain majors had access to podcasting and video recording equipment, but the center is unique in that it is open to all students, said Andrew Rosner, Franklin College’s director of digital fluency, said.

“Students have creative ways to utilize the equipment. They record lyrics for their own music, we had the faculty use the equipment for an art installation that relied heavily on audio recordings,” Rosner said. “We also have students recording videos and using equipment for voiceovers. It’s a whole series of projects in the studio.”

Students could use equipment in the college’s Dietz Center while the exterior renovations took place, but they had to share the space with the offices of career development and professional development. With the CTI reopening at the beginning of the spring semester, students could benefit from having their own space where they can learn and create, Rosner said.

The virtual reality headsets allowed students to enter a virtual work experience, where they can simulate what it’s like to work with companies like Citibank by completing tasks that take anywhere from two to six hours, he said.

Collin Sanders, a sophomore studying graphic design, said he uses CTI’s Mac computers to create and print designs for his coursework. He is also a fan of virtual reality headsets, where he has toured outer space and different parts of the United States. The headsets also helped him learn different perspectives, Sanders said.

“One of them travels across America while Black as part of Black history. It has people sitting in a booth talking and it’s like you’re having a conversation. There is also one with Anne Frank where you can see her home and her experience,” Sanders said.

Cody Bond, a junior double majoring in computer science and software engineering, has never printed anything in 3D before, but has friends who have used the Prusa i3 MK3S+ printers to produce miniature dragons and bears. Bond himself used knowledge he gained from his studies to solve problems with the virtual reality headsets and 3D printers, Bond said.

“Because of how important digital fluency is, (it helps) to look at all the things that are used if something goes wrong,” he said. “Solving it is important because we are getting further and further into a technologically advanced world.”

The CTI is a great place for students to explore their creative side and be productive, Sanders said.

“I think it’s a great way for students to come in and either interact with other students through technology or virtual reality headsets and it’s a great place to come in and work,” he said. “It helps me focus, rather than being at a dorm with distractions.”

The center helps establish Franklin College as a technologically advanced institution, Prather said.

“I think among small colleges in Indiana, we are at the forefront of embedding digital proficiency in the essence of a liberal arts education,” he said. “We have made the commitment that every student’s experience here will include the opportunity to become digitally fluent in the platforms and applications most commonly used and most useful for their specific academic major and goals.”

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