Ohio State University is collaborating with COhatch, a Worthington-based company that builds coworking spaces and community hubs, to design a technology-development space where students can gain real-world experience.
The university and COhatch are creating the Digital Flagship Design Lab in the Gateway district near the university.
Construction is slated to start in August and the lab, which will feature computer stations and lounge areas, is set to open early next year. The design lab will take the place of the former Aveda Hair Salon on North High Street.
Matt Davis, founder and CEO of COhatch, said the design lab would occupy about 1,500 square feet of the 8,000-square-foot building. The rest of the space would be occupied by about 25 private offices, game areas, coworking spaces, meeting rooms and conference rooms.
Davis said the new space would work as a place for students and COhatch members to collaborate.
"The two spaces will overlap and they will flex into each other," Davis said. "So we will do things like show the top 10 technologies being developed by students. Or investor groups can do pitch competitions with them. And we want there to be a job posting board where all of our members could hire interns from Ohio State."
Davis said COhatch also would sponsor public workshops to give those who may not be a part of the Ohio State community a chance to get a taste of what they can do with technology.
The lab is an outgrowth of the university's Digital Flagship Program. Started in 2017, the program was Ohio State's collaboration with Apple to "integrate learning technology throughout the university experience." This collaboration allowed first-year students to receive an iPad Pro and accessories and university-wide opportunities for students to learn coding skills.
Liv Gjestvang, associate vice president for learning technology, said creating a physical design lab was a part of the plan when the Digital Flagship Program was first created, but the university wanted to take time to find the right space and the right partnership.
While they searched, they created the Mobile Design Lab in 2019, a 35-foot bus with technology to teach students and others in the community about digital skills, coding and app development.
"We're seeing increasingly that students having the opportunity to build relationships with people that they can learn from and people they can also share their skills with is a really powerful part of their learning," Gjestvang said.
The entire renovation will cost more than $1.5 million. An Ohio State spokesman said the university is not contributing to the renovation cost but will pay rent for the space.
Since its establishment in 2016, COhatch has been expanding its footprint. The company has five other locations in Delaware, Polaris, Upper Arlington and Worthington, with two to come in Dublin and Easton.
Davis, an Ohio State alumnus, said it's humbling to be able to give back.
"I'm excited about giving students the opportunity to learn technology," Davis said. "Our mission is to strengthen communities and improve people's lives. I think now more than ever, us being able to help facilitate that demographic age group to help them live a balanced life in different areas outside of just work. ... It's awesome."