Organizers are hopeful that students, teachers and professionals in science, technology, engineering and math can soon use the resources that the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub offers.
Tuesday marked the start of the renovations, with a ceremony attended by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, local officials and students.
During the event, a wall was broken by a robot, formally beginning work to the center.
It will include cutting-edge tools such as 3-D printers, space for entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as a lab for STEM students to work in.
Joel Gordon, the Launch Pad director, says just like a library, the Regional innovation Hub will be available as a resource.
“If teachers want to come here and they want to teach a class, then we’ll be their host. They can use our equipment, they can use everything to teach their class,” Gordon said. “A lot of the robotics teams, we have a home-school robotics team, a lot of times don’t have the equipment to do what they need to be in these robotics competitions, and, we want to be able to help them with that.”
Among those attending the ceremony was 15-year-old Jackson Lowry with the robotics team.
“This is actually going to be a huge part of what we do and I can’t wait for this to be finished and it to be up. It’s going to be a lot of fun because it’s going to be a massive educational experience and a chance for us to meet a whole lot of entrepreneurs and business people," Lowry said.
Gov. Mike Beebe said that the U.S. lacks enough people pursuing the fields of science, technology, engineering and math because they were intimidated by the subjects when they were young.
Gordon said through the center, students and people with expertise in their fields can learn and inspire each other.
“We can show them what you’re doing right now, that you’re loving and really excited about it, that you can grow up and do that for a living and here are people who do it. And, they’re in this space with you,” Gordon said.
He said funding for the nonprofit center comes from the state, city, and industry.