UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 17, 2024

“We’re here for Southern Utah’: Atwood Innovation Plaza offers resources for community use

Bailey Chamberlain, a junior art major from Sandy, and Traedon Chamberlain, a senior recreation and sports management major from Sandy, were in the process of creating a product for their new business. The Atwood Innovation Plaza offers many opportunities for students interested in starting a small business and offers a handful of different resources to help you get started. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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The Atwood Innovation Plaza is a building filled with equipment for everyone to come and bring their ideas to life.

The plaza features different sections that students and the community can use including the Makerspace, Innovations Guidance and Solutions, Business Resource Center and Startup Incubator. The plaza also has a science, technology, engineering and math outreach for grades K-12.

Makerspace

Makerspace is a low-cost area for people to use. It is a creative space for students and the community to use if they have ideas for a product or business.

Makerspace Director Michajah Johnson said they can use the equipment that is provided to make different ideas of products and prototypes. Equipment available for use include the following:

  • Hobby laser
  • Wide format printer and vinyl cutter
  • Sewing and embroidery machine
  • Artemis 3D printer
  • Woodshop

For example, people can come in and learn quilting. They can be taught by people at the plaza how to sew by using the sewing machine and embroidery station.

People who want to use the Makerspace have to do a small orientation and go online to a signup sheet to use the space and equipment. They can buy materials through the Makerspace as well.

Bonnie Jensen, Atwood Innovation support coordinator, said it is very inexpensive to use the materials there, but you can bring your own and they will only charge you for your time on the machine. 

Innovations Guidance and Solutions Center

Not only can you make your ideas come to life, but you can also patent and trademark them.

Dr. Wayne Provost is the director of the Innovations Guidance and Solutions Center and is the one to contact to get your patent and trademarks.

However, there are legal fees because you must involve a patent attorney, but there are ways to help students cover the costs.

Jensen said they mainly see a lot of students from the College of Business that they help a lot. But, there are other students who come to the plaza, like the engineering students. They can help engineer a product or an idea that can then later be created.

Jensen said: “We see students from every discipline at Utah Tech, from the College Of The Arts, Health Sciences, Engineering, all of the colleges. Some students come to us with just an idea, some come to us that have already engineered prototypes. I love to see the diversity of students and ideas that we see here at Innovation Plaza every day.”

There have been students who have used the plaza and turned their ideas into real prototypes. A student and a Utah Tech staff member who competed in the most recent pitch competition created Storywave. This combines technology and storytelling to have resources for creators and consumers.

Business Resource Center 

The Business Resource Center helps people start up their businesses. They can help a business by getting a limited liability company, getting a name and the URL.

They offer support with accounting and payroll as well. The BRC is free for anyone and gives free business consultations. 

The BRC, which is led by Wyatt Anderson, has helped about 159 LLC businesses start, and they have done over 2,200 business consultations.

The center guides people in learning the business basics as well as teaching what is needed for your new idea to grow and be successful. People with a business have to know about marketing, taxes, hiring and banking. The plaza helps others learn these skills to be prepared. 

Startup Incubator 

The Startup Incubator is an area where people can come in and rent an office for $100 a month. If they come up with an idea for a product or business, they can enter a pitch competition and get a free space. This allows people to have a desk to work at. 

There are different companies and donors that offer up a certain amount of money to help with the idea. 

All of these features are open to the community, so anyone can use this resource.

Johnson said, “You’re never too old or too young to learn something.” 

The plaza has trademarked the word “bumpability” because that is the foundation of what they do.

Jensen said: “We want to bump into each other and make ideas. Ideas spark from different things.”

There are classrooms that people can rent out for classes and seminars. These are open to the public for anyone to use. They only have to pay a fee to rent them. 

STEM

The plaza has a science, technology, engineering and math outreach as well. They offer after-school programs for kids and field trips at the plaza. 

STEM is a place for kids, K-12, to come and learn how to do robotics and other technology-based activities. However, they do charge a fee for the children to do this. 

Jeffrey Stewart, director & entrepreneur in residence, said, “The idea is to get the kids to get their hands on computers, robotics, so when they go to college, they’ll want to consider that as a career.” 

Jensen said: “You don’t have to be exclusively with Utah Tech or the community. We’re here for Southern Utah.”