Words by Ashton Vogelhuber

On the third floor of Rockwell Hall, glass encloses a space filled with hums and whirs. This space houses a laser cutter, 3-D printer, embroidery machine, knitting machine, poster printer and textile printer that, when in use, emit these continuous noises. Welcome to the TechStyleLAB.

The TechStyleLAB is part of Kent State’s Fashion School and provides resources for students creating projects for classes or during the Fashion/Tech Hackathon in January.

“The wearable technology that the students make at the Hackathon are usually my favorite, because it is a large group of individuals working on a project with a variety of skills,” Kevin Wolfgang, the lab’s manager, says.

During the Fashion Tech Hackathon, majors collide when students team up to create innovative fashion designs incorporating technology.

“It’s more interesting because you may have an engineer, a fashion merchandising major, an art major and an interior designer all working on the same project,” Wolfgang says.

When students aren’t gearing up for the Hackathon, many fashion majors use the lab to complete class projects.

Senior Krista Zolton, majoring in fashion merchandising, printed mood boards and scarves for both a product development and tech class.

“I think it’s cool that we can use the lab, but it’s also great to see how it is all used,” Zolton says.

Kendall Grice, a junior majoring in fashion merchandising, used the lab’s poster printer and textile printer.

“I have made silk scarves that are a project in the fashion tech class,” she says.

To use the equipment, a form can be filled out at the lab’s website or appointments can be made in the lab.

Students are charged fees to use the equipment in the lab.

“This is all grant funded,” Wolfgang says. “There’s no budget, it doesn’t come out of course fees, unless you’re taking a specific course, it doesn’t come out of your tuition.”

The lab charges students the wholesale cost for the materials they purchase to complete projects. This keeps the lab sustainable. Digitally exclusive projects, however, are free.

The lab also helps students interested in creating a fashion-related business connect and consult with LaunchNET.

“We do programming, we teach workshops, we sponsor the Fashion/Tech Hackathon and discuss entrepreneurial opportunities,” Wolfgang says.

Currently, the lab is teaming up with Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens to help protect history.

“We’re reprinting some historical textiles for them,” Wolfgang says. “They’re going to use the printed textiles in the museum and then store the antique textiles for preservation.”

The lab is open on weekdays all year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and assists anywhere from 10 to 15 students on a given week. It is located on the third floor of Rockwell Hall in room 302.

Ashton Vogelhuber is the technology reporter for The Burr.