BHSU’s Innovation Lab: Empowering Students through Technology

On the lower level of the newly renovated E.Y. Berry Library-Learning Center at Black Hills State University is a room filled with some of the most cutting-edge pieces of technology available. Referred to as the Innovation Lab, the space is equipped with 3D printers, a 3D scanner, a laser cutter, audio/video recording facilities, and more.  

Aaron Bauerly, systems librarian and makerspace coordinator at BHSU, said he hopes the Innovation Lab can become a dynamic space that allows students and community members to explore their creativity, develop technical skills, and engage in passion projects.  

Funded by a $100,000 grant, Bauerly explained that the addition of the Innovation Lab came about as a way to address issues of equipment access for students and faculty across various academic programs. Previously, when departments would purchase specialized equipment, the access to that technology would often be limited to specific students. The Innovation Lab aims to break down these barriers by allowing interdisciplinary use of equipment regardless of a student’s major. Bauerly hopes the ability to explore diverse technologies will help students develop out-of-the-box thinking and problem-solving skills they will use throughout their life and future careers.  

“A lot of these technologies have applications in lots of different fields,” Bauerly explained. “We often look at four-year degrees as just getting training for a job, and to some degree, that is true, but really a four-year degree is also about teaching you how to become a well-rounded individual.” 

Bauerly said that the Innovation Lab is still currently a work in progress, but that they hope the lab will eventually be open and staffed with students who can help mentor and guide their peers as they work to learn the equipment, empowering students to take charge of their learning while also providing support when needed.  

“The intention is that eventually community members can take advantage of the facility as well,” Bauerly said. 

BHSU faculty are also excited to integrate the technology found in the Innovation Lab into their own curricula. The 3D scanner has already been used for art classes to create intricate 3D prints of scanned objects. Additionally, the audio/video recording studio will be able to be used by students and community members alike to record podcasts, TV broadcasts, and other audio/video recordings. 

To find out more about the Innovation Lab at BHSU contact Dr. Jon Kilpinen at