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The SLC dream team

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By Brennan Doherty

Jaigris Hodson and Namir Ahmed want Ryerson’s newest initiatives to share more than just the third floor of the Student Learning Centre (SLC). The new directors of the Launch Zone and the Digital Media Experience (DME) centre are already planning to collaborate once the SLC opens in late February.

“When I started talking to the [SLC organizers] about the DME, it became apparent that it was a match made in heaven,” said Hodson, who’d been tapped last September to run the Launch Zone, a branch of the Digital Media Zone (DMZ). She was a Ryerson instructor in the School of Professional Communication, who also had a hand in advising the DMZ.

Entrepreneurship is the focus of the Launch Zone, which has a presentation amphitheatre and openconcept layout. The Zone is a space for business and non-business students to meet, plan and work.

“We want to encourage a very diverse group of entrepreneurs to come into the space because we feel there’s much to be gained from people working side-by-side when they have completely different ideas,” Hodson said.

Plans are already in place at the Launch Zone to host workshops on design thinking, ideapitching, and the possibility of even bringing in outside companies to act as mentors to student entrepreneurs.

As the Launch Zone plans to build entrepreneurship, the DME plans to build students’ skills with digital technology.

Ahmed was hired two weeks ago to be the director of the DME.

His own diverse educational background is the starting motive for the space.

“The thing about the DME is that it’s really open to anything,” Ahmed said. “You know, for me, the combination of archaeology and digital media is just a really good example of two fields that people might not necessarily put together, but can be, in various effective ways.”

While the DME’s lab won’t be fully operational until March, it will still contain a number of high-tech design and desktop-manufacturing gadgets: a 3-D printer, an Oculus Rift and a number of library-inspired technological products.

“What it looks like we’re going to have is kind of what we’re calling a ‘technology petting zoo,’ where students can come in and just play with the technology we’re going to have there,” Ahmed said.

But both directors see their new space as a prototype.

“I really don’t want to have a set image of what it’s going to be, because I want to be nimble, and I want to be able to react to students’ needs,” said Ahmed.

Similarly, Hodson is going to “see what works. The things that work, we’re going to do more of and if things don’t work, we may choose to pivot and go in a slightly different direction.” Both spaces will be open for tours and workshops on Feb. 23, the SLC’s soft-open date.

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