The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and SEI are pleased to announce that a team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign consisting of SEI coordinator Joy Scrogum (ISTC), William Bullock (Art + Design), Martin Wolske, and Jon Gant (both of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science) has recently received funding from the Student Sustainability Committee for a project entitled “Illini Gadget Garage: Education through Electronic Product Life Extension.” This seed funding will be used to launch a center where UI students and staff will bring their personal electronic devices for assistance with assessment and repair. The center will be called the Illini Gadget Garage. Using the same “collaborative repair” model employed at the campus bike shop and MakerSpace Urbana’s computer Help Desk, clients with devices in need of repair/troubleshooting will work together with Gadget Garage student staff and volunteers to perform the necessary device assessment and maintenance activities. Depending upon the situation, activities may range from guidance on how to make your computer/device run faster to actual repair and replacement of components.
Beyond the avoidance of waste by extending the useful life of products, desired outcomes for students, staff, and the community include:
- Hands on experiences for UI students, not only in terms of performing repairs, but also in process documentation and fostering sustainable behavior on a larger scale through the iFixit Technical Writing Project; marketing and business operations; lessons in industrial design for repair and recyclability; and in environmental education and communication.
- Increased awareness of electronics laws and recycling options.
- Increased awareness of sustainability issues surrounding electronic products throughout their lifecycles.
- Decreased misconceptions regarding the disposability of devices and prohibitive complexity of electronics repair and maintenance.
- Contribution to the overall efforts to make ours a more sustainable campus with a reduced carbon footprint.
The project team will use SEI’s Sustainable Electronics Campus Consortium as an advisory group, providing input and feedback on project progress and development. The project is just getting started, but there will be more information on the SEI web site and posted here on the blog over the coming months. In the meantime, if you have questions or want to be added to the campus consortium list so you can become involved in meetings on this and other relevant efforts, please contact Joy Scrogum.