The rendering for the COhatch and Ohio State Digital Design Lab.

The rendering for the COhatch and Ohio State Digital Design Lab. Credit: Courtesy of Janet Brumfield | COhatch spokesperson

Ohio State’s Digital Flagship Initiative will partner with shared office business COhatch to move its Design Lab into a physical space in the Gateway District.

The Digital Flagship Design Lab, set to open in early 2021, will be part of an office space across from the Gateway Film Center at 1581 N. High St. Matt Davis, founder and chief executive officer of COhatch, said the lab will not only provide students and faculty with real-world experience in technology development, it will also offer networking and scholarship opportunities.

“We wanted them to be able to get the best state-of-the-art education on technology development [and] at the same time be surrounded by business professionals any time they’re in there,” Davis said. “It’s almost like a real-life internship.” 

Davis said the building’s focal point will be the Digital Flagship Design Lab, where students will learn app development skills and how to use the technologies of Apple and other tech companies through their coursework. The lab is part of the university’s Digital Flagship Initiative, a program implemented by Ohio State in 2017 to both increase access to digital tools — such as providing school-issued iPads to incoming students — and help students develop technological skills. 

“We live in a world that is mediated heavily by coded content. Teaching our students the skills to not only consume this content critically, but also understand how it is constructed, and begin creating it themselves, is one of the goals of the Flagship initiative,” Liv Gjestvang, associate vice president of learning technology in the Office of Distance Education and eLearning, said in an email. 

According to a Tuesday COhatch press release, as part of the collaboration, COhatch — which has seven other locations in Columbus — will offer scholarships to graduating students who have demonstrated excellence in their field and a desire to help the community.

“Our vision is to replicate a ‘whole-life’ approach to hundreds of local communities including the OSU campus, impacting the world one person and one community at a time,” Davis said in the release. 

University professors and the Digital Flagship Initiative will hold office hours in the building; otherwise, Davis said the space is designed to be flexible in order to accommodate the university’s needs, whether it be bringing in investors or hosting free workshops.

Cory Tressler, director of learning programs and Digital Flagship at Ohio State, said in a university press release Tuesday that the goal of the building and lab is to help the university connect with and give back to the community through workshops and programs.

“This new space will be a place where this community mindedness can merge with the strength of the business and intellectual power within the university and Columbus,” Tressler said. 

Davis said the Design Lab will be accessible to students only during their classes, but that COhatch is developing ways for students to access the lab and building on their own. In the meantime, he said the building will host startup and technology-driven events that are open to students and the public. 

“The Digital Flagship Design Lab is a space and environment that promotes continued learning, collaboration and growth over time,” Tressler said. “The physical space provides huge flexibility to offer new types of programming and connect our students with the immensely talented professionals both at Ohio State and in the greater Ohio community.”