University of Lethbridge’s Agility Zone solves problem in Science Commons

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WATCH ABOVE: Staff at the University of Lethbridge turned to the school’s Agility Innovation Zone when they faced a design problem with the new science commons building. Charlye Caldwell has the story – Feb 26, 2020

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to solve a problem, because everything you need right in front of you.

That is exactly what happened to the University of Lethbridge’s project manager, Nick Gabbin.

Gabbin was tasked with installing 60 rotating peepholes in the doors of the vivarium, an area of the Science Commons which hosts live animals.

He noticed the peepholes would expose the foam insulation in the doors, which would violate the vivarium’s decontamination protocols.

“There’s Styrofoam insulation in the door that was exposed because the peephole did not have a full seal or a sleeve to go all the way through, exposing all the Styrofoam,” Gabbin said. “Styrofoam is a huge collection point of contaminants that you can’t just clean.”

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Gabbin tried to use PVC piping and a conduit, but both of those options were time-consuming. He even contacted the peephole manufacturer, but there was no sleeve available.

That’s when Gabbin decided the best option was to use the university’s Agility Innovation Zone and create a sleeve for the peepholes.

“So we looked at the peepholes, I measured them out, did a couple of different designs to do this, and then I got into the drafting, learned how to do that through the Innovation Zone here.”

Gabbin used the Zone’s facilities to 3D-print the peephole sleeves.

“This was the first product to be prototyped, manufactured and used as a real-world product by university facilities. We used university resources to solve an issue and saved time and money in the process,” Gabbin said.

Agility manager Brandy Old said the Zone is not just open to university staff, but students as well.

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“The equipment and material are free for use because everything has been donor-funded. And essentially, anyone that has a project, so whether it’s for a class, a research project, maybe a business idea or just a hobby, you can come in and try to prototype it here, test it out, see if it works,” Old said.

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The Agility Innovation Zone has a variety of technology such as 3D printing, virtual reality and even sewing machines.

The university hopes to expand the program’s reach to make it available to the entire Lethbridge population.