NIC, Gizmo-CDA sign collaboration agreement


North Idaho College and Gizmo-CDA entered an agreement in which the “makerspace” nonprofit will be housed at NIC. Standing in front of the Gizmo horse are, from left: NIC Vice President for Instruction Lita Burns, Gizmo-CDA Board President Ruth Pratt, NIC Board of Trustees Chair Ken Howard, NIC President Rick MacLennan, Gizmo Co-Founder Barbara Mueller, Gizmo Co-Founder Marty Mueller, NIC Director of Regional Entrepreneurial Strategy Ryan Arnold, NIC Foundation Board Member Brad Dugdale, and Charles Buck, University of Idaho Associate Vice President and Center Executive Officer of Northern Idaho and Gizmo-CDA Board Member. 

North Idaho College and the experiential learning, nonprofit Gizmo-CDA have entered into an agreement paving the way for NIC to house the innovative program on its main campus in Coeur d’Alene.

Gizmo-CDA recently began moving from its tight quarters on Fourth Street in Coeur d’Alene to a space that allows for growth in the NIC Hedlund Building, which formerly housed career and technical programs. The Hedlund space was freed up when those programs moved into the new Parker Technical Education Center in Rathdrum last year.

NIC President Rick MacLennan said the college bringing Gizmo-CDA on campus furthers its mission of providing the community access to educational opportunities while sparking innovation and preparing a workforce for where economies of the future are headed.

“We’ve engaged in this collaboration as part of our larger educational mission of creating open access to the learning and development around innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship,” MacLennan said. “Gizmo will expand learning opportunities for everyone, bringing tools, technologies and mentors to help us grow educational programming while deepening the connection between NIC and our community.”

Co-founders Marty and Barbara Mueller call Gizmo-CDA a “makerspace,” that provides an innovative learning environment equipped with creative technology and diverse tools and equipment. Barbara Mueller said the inspiration to create, to pursue science, math and related fields, can be seen on a young student’s face when they watch a robot come to life that they built with their own hands.

“There’s such gleefulness in that. It’s that encouragement that gets them to go on looking forward to a bright future,” she said.

As part of the collaboration agreement, Gizmo-CDA will work jointly with NIC to develop long-range strategic goals that will enhance educational pathways for students, particularly in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Benchmarks will be established to measure successes related to STEM and innovative education.

“This makerspace gives students the ability to create an apparatus for, say, an experiment rather than just having them read about it,” Marty Mueller said, adding that NIC’s Engineering Club has been working collaboratively with Gizmo-CDA for years on several projects such as a massive working trebuchet and underwater vehicles used to explore Lake Coeur d’Alene and Lake Pend Oreille. The NIC engineering students benefit from a high-tech workspace and, in turn, can help mentor community members. NIC will retain responsibility for regulating how the space is used and will oversee building operations with Gizmo responsible for maintenance and routine repairs.

NIC Director of Regional Entrepreneurial Strategy Ryan Arnold said connections and relationships such as these that build on each other are at the core of the vision NIC sees for the future of the Hedlund Building. Disciplines that can work together symbiotically such as computer science, web design, cybersecurity, and business entrepreneurship are a few examples of programs that could potentially be housed alongside Gizmo-CDA.

“It’s taking the right people and putting them in the same space together,” Arnold said. “Gizmo is an educational partner, our focus is on education, and this collaboration helps us provide our students with skill sets they need to be successful in our future economy.”

 MacLennan said this agreement is the beginning of many co-creation opportunities. “This represents the best type of community collaboration,” MacLennan said. “This is just the first spark. There is much more to come.”

Information: NIC Chief Communications and Government Relations Officer Laura Rumpler, (208) 769-3404 or  


Posted: Monday, Oct. 9, 2017

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